Friday, June 13, 2014

Who has the real Stone of Scone?

Now that the weather is better we are taking more trips on Saturdays to see much of the beauty of this country.  This trip was to Scone Palace (Scone rhymes with "tune").  The word “Scone” means “small hill”.  Today Scone is still the home of the Earls of Mansfield of the Murray family, but it is also a major visitor attraction.  Fifteen hundred years ago it was the capital of a Pictish Kingdom.  In the intervening centuries it has been the home of parliaments and the crowning of kings.  It housed the Stone of Scone.

This picture is taken from the current entrance to the Scone Palace.  The tour takes one through a few of the rooms downstairs.  The Earl of Mansfield family still lives in part of the Palace.

 Near the entrance to the Palace we saw some Highland cows ("hielan coos" is how the Scots would say this) grazing in the pasture.  Most are a darker red colour but they are sometimes this lighter colour.

 This is the side view of the Palace.  Unfortunately we could not take photos inside the palace.  There is an amazing collection of ivory figurines in a large dining room.  There is one large room along this side that is 146 feet long and about 30 feet wide.  It is still used by the family.
I scanned some pictures from the booklet we bought that tells of the Palace

 This is one of the rooms.  The room below is the long room.  It is the longest room in any of the palaces in Scotland
 The dinning room had an amazing collection of ivory statues.  This is just one of the larger ones.

Scone Palace is near the River Tay and the city of Perth (pronounced “Pearth” by the Scots)  James IV was the last King of Scots to be crowned at Scone in 1488.  With him, the power shifted to Edinburgh and the newly built Palace of Holyroodhouse.

 This is the Stone of Scone...or the Stone of Destiny.  The legends add some mystic of the history surrounding the stone.  The Stone of Scone is surrounded in mystery.  It is a symbol of great power, but has been surrounded by intrigue from its earliest days.  Even the stone's origin is shrouded in legend and uncertainty.  Some people suggest that the stone was Jacob’s Pillow, brought from the Holy Land via Ireland, to arrive at Scone in the 9th century.  Others believe it may have been a royal stone belonging to the Scots from Antrim, or the Picts from the north-east.  It could even have been a Roman altar stone taken from the Antonine Wall.  Wherever it came from, it was certainly in use at Scone as a crowning-seat between the 9th and 15th century.

In 1296, Edward I marched north to conquer Scotland and removed what he believed to be the Stone to Westminster Abbey.  His goal was to eliminate Scotland and Wales and have only England.  There in Westminster he had the stone mounted in a throne-chair were it remained for the next 700 years despite a brief but sensational disappearance in 1950 when a group of Scottish Nationalist students broke into Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day and took it back to Scotland.  After a couple of weeks it was returned to Westminster Abbey where it stayed until finally being brought to rest in Edinburgh Castle in 1996.  Today it is in the Crown room of the Edinburgh Castle.  There is a book, Stone of Destiny, written by Ian Hamilton, the individual who was the mastermind of the stone’s disappearance.

Even today the question still remains:  is the stone in Edinburgh today the real one?  Or, did the monks dupe Edward by handing over a fake all those centuries ago?  If Edward believed he had the real one, why then did he return to ransack Scone abbey again two years later, in 1298?  Many have theories, but the mystery remains…

 This is the chapel or abbey near the Palace on Moot Hill.  One cannot enter the Chapel but only look through the door.  The picture below is what is on the end wall of the Chapel.

This is the main entrance to the Palace coming through a wall and arched gate.  Legend is that a new entrance had to be made because Queen Victoria's carriage would not fit through this gate.

 The Palace is surrounded by a wonderful garden...

The Scone Maze is designed in the shape of the five-pointed star that features in the Murray crest and appears as a motif throughout the palace.  The maze comprises 2,000 beech trees, half of them green and half copper, planted in such a way as to crete a unique tartan effect.

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