What was the first capital of Scotland?

A view of Edinburgh's skyline
A view of Edinburgh's skyline
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Edinburgh became the nation’s lead city in 1437 but it wasn’t the first capital of Scotland.

Edinburgh took the title following the murder of King James I in Perth with the “fair city” considered by many to be the de facto capital of Scotland from the 800s until his death.

With the royal court moving frequently around Scotland during the Middle Ages

There was no official capital of Scotland as such during the Middle Ages as the royal court moved frequently around Scotland.

However, Perth’s links to the monarchy gave it a special status.

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After his release from captivity in England in 1424, James I chose Perth as his main home and continued to hold major political meetings here.

The convent-church of Blackfriars, a mendicant friary of the Dominican order, became the regular setting for parliaments in the 1420s and 1430s.

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The city of Perth grew up around Old Scone, the capital of the new Kingdom of Alba which unified the eastern kingships of Pictland and the western kingships of the Scots.

King Constantine II called for the first Scottish assembly meeting at Scone in 906 with Scone Abbey remaining the usual place of the coronation of Scottish kings until the 15th Century.

Following the violent death of James I, the focus switched to well-defended Edinburgh.

The coronation of James II son was held at Holyrood with Edinburgh, which was already home to the treasury and archives, soon becoming the recognised seat of royal government.