Scone Palace In Beautiful Perthshire
Located 1½ miles North of Perth and 2 miles West of New Scone,
Scone Palace is the family home of the Earls of Mansfield. Despite
its historic setting, the Palace we see today was only built
in 1802 by English architect William Atkinson, who went on to
create Abbotsford for Sir Walter Scott.
Originally the site of a 6th Century Celtic church, replaced
in the 12th Century by an Augustinian Abbey and a Bishop's
Palace which provided lodgings for the Kings of Scotland. Both
Palace and Abbey were destroyed in 1559 by a Perth mob, incited
by a sermon by John Knox (1505-72), and the lands passed to
the Earl of Gowrie, who built a new house. However, after the
Gowrie Conspiracy (1600), an attempt to kidnap James
VI (1566-1625), the estates were forfeit and given to Sir David
Murray (1604), who was also created Lord Scone, in return for
his loyalty to James.
Murray built a new Palace in 1618 and it was here that Charles
II (1630-85) stayed before being the last King crowned on Moot
Hill in the palace grounds (1651), where Kings had been crowned
since the time of Kenneth MacAlpin (d.858). Other visitors included
the Old Pretender (1715) and his son Bonnie Prince Charlie (1745).
Murray's descendants became the Viscounts Stormont (1602)
and then Earls of Mansfield (1776). The 1st Earl spent his time
in London and the 2nd Earl found the old palace too damp. Thus
it was David Murray, becoming the 3rd Earl at only 19, who commissioned
the rebuilding of the palace as the splendid castellated gothic
edifice in red sandstone which we see today. It houses fine
collections of furniture, paintings, ivory and porcelain, together
with historically-important royal heirlooms belonging to James
VI and his mother Mary.
The fine grounds include a fir tree planted in 1825 from seeds
sent back by botanist David Douglas (1799-1834), who had been
a gardener at the palace and ruins of the historic village of
Scone, dismantled to permit a larger estate around the new palace
Stone is 26 inches long, 16 inches wide and 11 inches high (660
x 400 x 280mm) and it weighs 336 lbs (2.5kgs). It is sandstone
although some believe that the Stone in Westminster may be quarried
in Oban or Perthshire.
Stone, it is claimed, ws the pillow on which Jacob had his biblical
dream about agels and the stairway to heaven. It is believed
to have been brought to Ireland by Phoenician traders escaping
religious persecution. Later taken by the Irish Dalriada to
Scotland to install Monarchs of this territory at Iona, Dunadd
and later Dunstaffrage. Kenneth McAlpine finally brought the
Stone to Scone. Its importance as a symbol of Scottish Monarchs
was not overlooked by the English who stole the Stone in 1296
and took it to Westminster. Although many believe that the Stone
was replaced by a copy during this period to fool the invaders.
Stone was slung under the Coronation Throne in Westminster and
incorporated into the English and later British Crowning Ceremony
of Kings. John Balliol the last King enthroned in Scotland in
the Treaty of Northampton 1328 guaranteed its return it was
not until 1950 that the Stone was returned to Scottish soil.
A group of 4 Glasgow University students led by Ian Hamilton
QC crept into Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1950 and
removed the stone from the Abbey and returned to Scotland. The
Stone remained at large for about 4 months prompting the largest
man/stone hunt by the Police in the United Kingdoms History.
Not only did the authorities fear the rising passions of the
Scottish nation but the King was gravely ill and Princess Elizabeth
faced the prospect of being the only Monarch in 800 years of
Scotland not to be crowned on the Stone. It was finally recovered
after a secret arrangement and the Stone was left at Arbroath
great debate still remains as to the exact whereabouts of the
true Stone. Is it in Iona, Arbroath, or Westminster? Did the
nationalists during the 1950's construct 3 replicas as has been
suggested? They did have the ability as one of the conspirators
was a master mason. The Stone was found to have been broken
when removed in the 1950's due to a grenade attack by suffragettes.
The conspirators had said they repaired the Stone with a copper
pipe in which they enclosed a copy of the Declaration of Arbroath.
St Andrews Day (30 November) 1996, 700 years after it was first
stolen by the English, it was finally returned to Scotland.
It now sits in Edinburgh Castle, alongside the Crown Jewels
of Scotland - or does it?
you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized
small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:
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