The Stone of Destiny (the Liath Fàil) and the Honours of Scotland
Westminster Stone theory
The Westminster Stone theory refers to the belief held by some historians and scholars that the stone which traditionally rests under the Coronation Chair is not the true Stone of Destiny but a thirteenth century substitute. Since the chair has been located in Westminster Abbey since that time, adherents to this theory have created the title ‘Westminster Stone’ to avoid confusion with the ‘real’ stone (sometimes referred to as the Stone of Scone).
One of the most vocal proponents of this theory was writer and historian Nigel Tranter, who consistently presented the theory throughout his non-fiction books and historical novels. Other historians have held this view, including James S. Richardson, who was an Inspector of Ancient Monuments in the mid-twentieth century. Richardson produced a monograph on the subject.
History of the Stone of Destiny
Stone of Scone
The Stone of Destiny was the traditional Coronation Stone of the Kings of Scotland and, before that, the Kings of Dalriada. Legends associate it with Saint Columba, who might have brought it from Ireland as a portable altar. In AD 574, the Stone was used as a coronation chair when Columba anointed and crowned Aedan King of Dalriada.
The Stone of Destiny was kept by the monks of Iona, the traditional headquarters of the Scottish Celtic church, until Viking raiding caused them to move to the mainland, first to Dunkeld, Atholl, and then to Scone. Here it continued to be used in coronations, as a symbol of Scottish Kingship.
Unless the fate shall faithless prove,
And prophets voice be vain;
Where’er this sacred Stone is found,
The Scottish race shall reign.
As he paced up and down waiting for the fabled stone to be delivered up, what was Edward expecting? Was it indeed Jacob’s Pillow, on which the biblical patriarch rested his head as he dreamt of angels ascending a ladder to heaven? Said to be the fragment of a falling star, this mythical stone would be made of black basalt or some mysterious, supernatural substance.
When the Temple of Jerusalem was looted Jacob’s Pillow was spirited away to Egypt where it became known as the Pharaoh’s Stone. What if this sacred relic coveted by the acquisitive Egyptians were sculpted out of pure white marble and inlaid with precious stones? That would be a prize well worth seizing.
After eloping with a Celtic prince Princess Scota, the pharaoh’s daughter, took the Stone to Ireland. Some time in the 5th century the princess’s descendants, the Scotti, brought the stone to Dalriada (Argyll). Then, c. 850 A.D, Kenneth MacAlpin, conqueror of the Picts, was crowned King of Scots at Moot Hill near Scone in present-day Perthshire. Sometimes referred to as the Hill of Faith or Belief, the Hill was created by sand taken there in the boots of those lords who had sworn allegiance to the Scottish king.
But was it the Tanist stone, known in Gaelic as An Lia Fàil, one of the four great treasures used in the coronation of Irish kings? Blessed by St Patrick the holy relic had been carted off by St Columba to Iona as his altar. During the Viking raids the Stone was moved to Scone Abbey for safekeeping.
This mythical stone, no doubt decorated with elaborate Celtic knot-work and covered in intricate carvings, was reputed to have magical properties. An Lia Fàil, ‘the great stone of fate or destiny’, not only groaned aloud when the true king of Scots sat on it but had the power to rejuvenate those who were crowned upon it. Said to be round, hollowed, and partly shaped like a chair or throne, it matched the description of the stone given by Walter of Guisborough who had attended the coronation of John Baliol in 1292. Whatever its origins, whatever its form, Edward coveted this touchstone of Scottish nationhood.
And so when the monks deposited a chunk of coarse-grained red sandstone at his feet, the English king would have gaped in astonishment.
The legendary talisman looked no different from the building blocks of the abbey, quarried from the hills around Scone. Not by any stretch of the imagination did it resemble a throne or a chair or a royal seat: on the contrary, the lump of stone with iron rings at each end bore an uncanny resemblance to the cover of a cess-pit.
King Edward’s eyes narrowed in suspicion and he clenched his fists in anger.
‘But this is no more than a hunk of rock!’ he spluttered.
Were these Scots’ monks making a mockery of him? Had they hidden the real stone?
The Abbot of Scone stepped forward. ‘I well understand your doubts, Your Grace, but consider this.’
Was the Hammer of the Scots taken in by this explanation or did he suspect his ‘lang shank’ was being pulled by the auld enemy? Whatever he believed Edward had no alternative but to claim his booty and cart it back to London where the Stone was fitted into an oak throne and installed at Westminster Abbey.
Since then, some 30 royal bottoms have sat upon King Edward’s Chair for their coronation. But were they crowned upon the legendary Stone of Destiny or the lid of a medieval toilet? Edward was still not convinced for in 1298 he sent a raiding party of knights back to Scone to rip the abbey apart in a desperate search. Whatever they were looking for, they returned empty-handed.
Then, in his Monuments Celtiques, 1805, Jacques Cambray claimed to have seen the stone when it bore the inscription:
Ni fallat fatum, Scoti quocumque locatum Invenient lapidiem, regnasse tenetur ibidem
The poetic translation being passed down as:
Unless the fate shall faithless prove, And prophets voice be vain;
Where’er this sacred Stone is found, The Scottish race shall reign.
But there is no such inscription on the present Stone and, since Cambray believed in a ‘stone’ cult and its connection with the Druids, this is probably another myth.
Historians are divided over whether Scotland’s sacred coronation stone, which was returned from London in 1996 following a campaign led by the then Scottish Secretary of State Michael Forsyth and is currently on display at Edinburgh Castle, is the real sandstone on which kings were enthroned.
Most agree it is the same relic stolen by Edward I of England in 1296 and the one later taken from Westminster Abbey during an audacious heist by students led by Ian Hamilton.
But there are arguments over whether this in itself was a replica amid suggestions monks secretly swapped it with the actual Stone of Destiny shortly before Edward’s raid on Scone Abbey, in Perthshire. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/31303/Did-monks-of-Scone-trick-Edward
The relationship between Scotland and England has never been straightforward. In 1296, Edward I of England annexed Scotland – remember Braveheart? – and took the Stone of Scone, which functioned as a talisman to the Scots, south of the Border. The stone weighed 990 kilos and Edward I had iron rings fixed to each side for its journey South. It would remain there until 1996… or rather, 1951. For it was in 1950 that the Stone was stolen from Westminster, on Christmas morning 1950. Though often perceived as a student prank, one of the protagonists, Ian Hamilton, has always tried to make clear that he did it for political motivations. When the police believed the Stone would make his way back to Scotland, the border between Scotland and England was closed, for the first time in 400 years. But despite these efforts, the stone made it into Scotland, where it was “left to be found” shortly afterwards, upon which it was taken back to Westminster.
But even if that were the case, there are those who doubt that the stone taken by Edward I in 1296 was the real one. Author Pat Gerber believes a fake stone was given to him, with the real stone secreted somewhere nearby. It may explain why Edward I sent a raiding party of knights back to Scone on August 17, 1298. They ripped the Abbey apart in a desperate search. But for what? The real Stone? Whatever they were looking for, it is known that they returned empty-handed. Furthermore, Gerber and others point out that the Treaty of Northampton in 1328 included the offer of return of the Stone. But the Scots did not ask for the insertion of that clause. Edward III offered it again in 1329, even suggesting the Queen Mother could take it to Berwick. Offered a final time in 1363, again, the Scots did not seem to want their talisman back. Did they know the “real one” was false?
Is the “official” Stone of Destiny real? Cambray in his “Monuments Celtiques” claims to have seen the stone when it bore the inscription: “Ni fallat fatum, Scoti quocumque locatum Invenient lapidiem, regnasse tenetur ibidem”: “If the Destiny proves true, then the Scots are known to have been Kings wherever men find this stone.”
There is no such inscription on the official Stone.
In 1968, Wendy Wood wrote that she went to Wesminster Abbey
“and slipped a piece of cardboard under the complicated iron railings, on which was printed, ‘This is not the original Stone of Destiny. The real Stone is of black basalt marked with hieroglyphics and is inside a hill in Scotland.’”
She was referring to Dunsinnan Hill, a hill to the east of Scone, and a story that has been popular for many decades.
But the history goes further back in time than Ireland. Hector Boece wrote in the “Scotorum Historiae” in 1537, that Gaythelus, a Greek, the son either of the Athenian Cecrops or the Argive Neolus, went to Egypt at the time of the Exodus, where he married Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, and after the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, fled with her by the Mediterranean until he arrived in Portingall, where he landed, and founded a kingdom at Brigantium, now Santiago de Compostella.
Here he reigned in the marble chair, which was the “lapis fatalis cathedrae instar”, or “fatal stone like chair”, and wherever it was located, portended kingdom to the Scots – those who had followed Scotia in exile.
Simon Breck, a descendant of Gaythelus, brought the chair from Spain to Ireland, and was crowned in it as King of Ireland. Later, Fergus, son of Ferchard, was first King of the Scots in Scotland, and brought the chair from Ireland to Argyll, and was crowned in it. He built a town in Argyll called Beregonium, in which he placed the Stone. The twelfth king, Evenus, built a town near Beregonium, called after his name Evonium, now called Dunstaffnage, to which the stone was removed. Dunstaffnage is near Oban, on the West coast of Scotland, and the same legend states that Fergus Mac Erc built a church on the island of Iona, and commanded it to be the sepulchre of the future kings. It should no longer come as a surprise that some argue that the “real stone” never came to Scone, but instead remained “somewhere” in or near Dunstaffnage.
Iona was indeed a sacred island, “in the West”, of pagan religious importance, for it became one of the key objectives of early Christianity to have as a powerbase. As funerals of kings and coronation ceremonies go hand in hand, the stone’s location in Dunstaffnage would make great sense, because of its proximity to Iona.
In Full http://philipcoppens.com/stone_destiny.html
The real Lia Fail stayed in Ireland at the Hill of Tara for over a thousand years after Teia Tephi brought it with her from Jerusalem in 583 B.C. All of the kings of Ireland were crowned on the Stone, right up to Muircheartach (Murdoch) son of Earc.
In around 500 A.D. Fergus Mor Mac Earc, Muircheartach’s brother invaded and settled Western Scotland which was previously occupied by the Picts. Fergus wanted to be crowned king of the (Scots) Irish who had migrated to Scotland on The Lia Fail Stone and Muircheartach loaned the Stone to him for that occasion.
The place where Fergus was crowned after his arrival in Argyll is the hill-top FORT of DUNADD in the Kilmartin valley. On the summit of this fortress of Dunadd is a FOOTPRINT carved in stone, and next to it a bowl-shaped hollow and the figure of a WILD BOAR. The hollow contained water used in ceremonial bathings; and the figure of the boar probably represented kingly courage and fierceness. Behind the footprint is a place for a STONE. While Fergus was being crowned, he sat on the Stone with his foot in the footprint.
Not true, they did break it as is obvious from reading Ian Hamilton’s book “No Stone Unturned” page 83, para 4, “I shall not forget what the faint light revealed, for I had pulled a section of the Stone away from the main part, . . .”
Para 5:- “‘We’ve broken Scotland’s luck,’ came Alan’s awful whisper.
I shone the torch on the break. Suddenly I saw that the greater area of the break was much darker than the thin wafer round the top edge (which broke cleanly when they dropped the Stone). The Stone had been cracked for years, and they had not told us.”
Hamilton also confessed to breaking the Stone in his later book “A Touch of Treason”, Lochar 1990, page 55, para 3, line 15:- “The three of us heaved at the Stone, tugging and pulling, getting in each other’s way. It came out with a thump on to the floor, and broke into two pieces, . . .”
last line:- “I betray myself. So often have I been asked about that moment, and how I felt . . . we broke the thing.” Hamilton confesses again in “The Taking of the Stone of Destiny”, Lochar 1991, page 81, para 5:- “‘We’ve broke it,’ I said (to Kay).” So the clean part of the break is where Ian Hamilton and friends broke the already long-time cracked Stone.
A traffic light stopped her outside Harrods in Knightsbridge. When she started off again there was a loud thump. She pulled in. ‘Ian hadn’t closed the boot properly, and the Stone (broken off piece weighing 90 lbs. – page 119, “No Stone Unturned”, para 3:- “that bit of the Stone weighs ninety pounds.”) had landed in the middle of the road. I had to lift it back in again’. She got safely out of London.
Meanwhile, Hamilton had collected the spare car from Millbank. The other two members of his team had vanished. Hamilton dragged the Stone to the car and end-over-end, he heaved the Stone onto the back seat. Page 90, “No Stone Unturned”, para 3:- ‘The Stone was still lying where the other two (Gavin Vernon and Alan Stuart) had left it. I caught hold of one end, and dragged it to the car. It came without the slightest difficulty. I raised it up on one end, and gently lowered that end into the car. The car went down on its springs, and I thought it (the car) was going to beetle over on top of me. I seized the other end. It meant that I had to lift the whole weight (368 lbs. – the piece that had broken off weighed 90 lbs. and 90+368=458 lbs., which is the weight of the real Stone of Destiny) until it passed top dead centre and I could lower it into the car. I think it went quite easily. I do not remember straining . . . Let the cynics laugh and Archbishops howl “Sacrilege!” but THE HANDS OF GOD WERE OVER MINE (helping me to lift 368 lbs. weight – almost three times Hamilton’s own weight of 9 stones 7 lbs.*) when I (read We – Hamilton and God**) lifted that Stone.’
* “No Stone Unturned”, page 44, para 2, line 3:- “This baby, of course, weighed four hundredweights, and as I weighed only nine and a half stones, . . .”
(4 hundredweight = 203.209 kilograms = 32 stone = 448 lbs = 0.203209 tonne)
“The Taking of the Stone of Destiny”, page 35, para 5, line 3:- “This baby weighed four hundredweight, and as I am only five foot six and weigh nine and a half stone, . . .”
** In “A Touch of Treason”, Lochar 1990, Ian Hamilton stated, on Page 55, para 3, line 15:- “The three of us heaved at the Stone, tugging and pulling, getting in each other’s way. It came out with a thump on to the floor, and broke into two pieces, . . .”
page 56, para 2, line 4:- “Then we bumped it down the steps (on his coat) to the nave. It was heavy, and three of us could not have carried it between us.” (and that is why Gavin Vernon and Alan Stuart had dropped and broken it, and it was at that exact moment, as it came out free from the Chair, that they found “to their cost” that it weighed more than four hundredweights [458 lbs.] and not three hundredweights [336 lbs.] like the replica stone Bertie Gray had made in the late 1920’s, that they had practised on before going to Westminster, and which they ultimately left at Arbroath Abbey on April 11th 1951 for the authorities to find, that is now on display, where it has been since 1996, in Edinburgh Castle Crown Room and weighs 336 lbs. according to Historic Scotland’s official “The Stone of Destiny – Symbol of Nationhood” booklet sold at Edinburgh Castle). They had originally planned for only two young men (Hamilton and Vernon) to remove and carry the Stone, believing it weighed only three hundredweights (336 lbs.), like the Bertie Gray replica stone that they had practised on and had found that two of them could carry.
IONA ABBEY & CLAN DONALD https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/4d03e0b2-50ab-4306-af4f-6c461e3c5b3b
BRIEF HISTORY OF CLAN DONALD OF SLEAT https://mccutcheonsfromdonaghadee.wordpress.com/about/cover-page-
“Here’s Tae Us. Wha’s like us? Damn few and they rrrrrr’ a’ Deed.”
Clan DONALD of Sleat is a direct descendant of John MacDonald who was married to Princess Margaret Stuart, one of the daughters of King Robert Stuart the 2nd, King of Scotland. John and Margaret were Ùisdean’s (Hugh’s) great grand-parents. Her older brother became King Robert 3rd, King of Scotland. Margaret Stuart’s mother was Marjory Bruce, daughter of ROBERT THE BRUCE, King Robert 1st of Scotland and liberator of Scotland from the English Crown. Robert The BRUCE was not a STEWART. His grandson, Robert 2nd, was the first STEWART.
Angus Og Macdonald Lord of The Isles. MACDONALD OF SLEAT https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angus_Og_MacDonald,_Lord_of_the_Isles
Supposedly, the monks of Scone hid the real Stone in the River Tay or buried it on Dunsinane Hill. Another tales says that Angus Og Macdonald was given the Stone and hid it either on Skye or in the Hebrides. A descendant of Macdonald’s, Iain Alasdair Macdonald, contacted Scottish historian Nigel Tranter claiming that he was in possession of the true Stone. Add in a few stories of farmers finding a washed out caves that were the hiding place of the true Stone, and you have no discernable proof any of the stories are accurate.
- 12.20mins “The Island was a Centre of early Scottish Christian” https://youtu.be/enSXkLj9iuo