On this day, 1951: The Stone of Destiny

THE Stone of Destiny, removed from beneath the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey on the previous Christmas Eve by Scottish nationalists, was returned to Westminster after being found at Arbroath Abbey

Two young children look at the Stone of Destiny at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: TSPL

To look at, the Stone of Destiny is an object remarkable only for its size (it tips 152kg on a set of scales), but its historic and symbolic importance outweighs its plain features.

The Stone of Destiny was historically used to crown monarchs during coronations – the last royal to use the Stone of Destiny was our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953.

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In 1296, it was taken by the English king Edward I from the now-ruined Scone Palace, and lay in Westminster Abbey until the mid-20th century, when a group of Scottish students staged what they would have called a repatriation of the stone by taking it to Arbroath Abbey and draping a Saltire over it.

The next year, in 1951, it was reinstalled in Westminster Abbey. Theories about this account question whether the original stone was, in fact, returned to Westminster Abbey; doubts have also been raised about whether the stone that lay in London for seven centuries was actually the Stone of Destiny or a fake.

Whatever the case, the Stone of Destiny as people recognise it has been at Edinburgh Castle since St Andrews Day in 1996. A replica also exists at Scone Palace.