(664) STONE OF DESTINY NOT GOING BACK TO SCONE -YET
Murdo Ferguson, Tory MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife and deputy leader of his party in the Scottish Parliament, has launched a campaign to have the Stone of Destiny transferred home to Scone from its present location in Edinburgh Castle (see No 2). He hoped (he said) that the election of an SNP government would lead to official backing for his initiative. But instead Linda Fabiani, Europe and Culture Minister, told him that the location of the Stone was a matter for the Queen, advised by the Commissioners for the Safekeeping of the Regalia (who of course include the First Minister). As a man apparently interested in Scotland’s medieval past, Mr Ferguson will doubtless take heart from the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider, and soldier on. A favourable wind may be blowing behind him: a Hollywood film about the taking of the Stone from Westminster Abbey in 1950-51 is in the making, with location shooting having taken place at Arbroath Abbey in June, while the outlines of the Stone’s original home, Scone Abbey, were revealed by scans conducted by Glasgow University archaeologists (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/tayside_and_central/6908145.stm).
The Stone’s return to the headlines led inevitably to renewal of the hoary old debate about whether or not it was the real one that went to Westminster in 1296 and that came back to Scotland in 1950-51 and 1996. The answer seems to be pretty conclusively that it was: see R Welander, D J Breeze and T O Clancy (eds), The Stone of Destiny: Artefact and Icon (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2003), especially the contribution of Professor Geoffrey Barrow, whose most telling point is the repeated efforts of the Scots to recover the Stone from 1321 on, behaviour hardly consistent with the notion that the real one had been hidden away in 1296 and a fake passed off on Edward I.