Stone of Destiny heads to coronation

THE Stone of Destiny has left Edinburgh Castle on its way to Westminster Abbey in London for the coronation.

It marks the first time since 1996 that the stone has left the castle.

A ceremonial procession from the castle’s Great Hall was led by the Lord Lyon King of Arms – the monarch’s representative in Scotland – and attended by First Minister Humza Yousaf in his capacity as the Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, one of the commissioners for the safeguarding of the regalia.

Kathy Richmond, head of collections and applied conservation at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the public body that cares for the stone, said: “It is a tremendous privilege for HES to play its part in such a significant and historic occasion, as the Stone of Destiny leaves Edinburgh Castle for the first time in [more than] 25 years.

“It is also a great responsibility to ensure the safe voyage and return of such an important national symbol, and one which has required the care, skill and expertise of a range different specialist teams across our organisation.

“It is fitting to have the opportunity to celebrate that work today.

“We are working closely with the conservation team at Westminster Abbey on the installation of the Stone into the base of the coronation chair, using the latest techniques and technology.”

Stone’s ‘contemporary meanings’

Meanwhile, Sally Foster – professor of heritage and conservation at the University of Stirling – has received a grant to “explore the contemporary meanings and values of the Stone of Destiny”.

The British Academy and Leverhulme Trust are giving her just over £50,000 for her research, which is entitled “Authenticity’s child: contemporary meanings and future destinies for the ‘Stone of Scone'”.

“The 2023 coronation of Charles III in Westminster Abbey and the 2024 relocation of the medieval Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny to Perth’s new museum is rekindling interest in the future of this national icon, what stories to tell about it and how,” she said.

“There is an unparalleled opportunity to explore, for the first time, the stone’s contemporary authenticity and social value in real time while it moves between multiple contexts.

“The stone is the supreme example of an object defined across time and space by how diverse communities negotiate its authenticity or inauthenticity and contest its meanings.”

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s culture pages.

Plus, don’t miss author Alexander McCall Smith’s column in the May issue of Scottish Field magazine.