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THE STONE OF DESTINY

There is an object that goes by the name of the ‘stone of destiny’. It is a rather large, dark grey stone that has been carved into a block and has no ornamentation or inscription on it.

It had been custom to use this stone during the coronation ceremonies of the old Kings of Scotland at Scone Abbey since time immemorial. In order to govern, the Kings had to be crowned on this stone. When King Edward I of England invaded Scotland, he came to Scone, seized the stone and took it back with him to London. He had it fitted into a specially-designed wooden throne, and ever since, all the Kings of England up until Elizabeth II had been crowned on this throne, sitting on the ‘stone of destiny’.

Everyone who followed the television broadcast of Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, and millions of tourists ever since, have been able to contemplate this revered object, which was being held at Westminster Abbey.

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Recently, in a kind gesture to the Scots, Queen Elizabeth decided to send the stone back to Edinburgh as it symbolises their independence. The stone would only be brought back to London in the event of the coronation of the next King of England.

However, a rumour has been going around for several decades, and even if one hasn’t noted, an historian’s inquiring mind could easily bring it to light again.    The abbey where the Kings of England were coronated stands in Scone, a domain which overlooks a splendid castle belonging to the Counts of Mansfield.

At the end of the 19th century, the Count of Mansfield received a peasant who had reported to him that, while he had been herding sheep, the ground of the prairie had fallen in and that he had fallen into a deep hole.

After he had gotten back up again, he discovered an interlacing of underground rooms and ended up in a sort of chapel with an altar, upon which lay a stone. Judging by its size, it curiously resembled the stone of destiny. Lord Mansfield summoned the peasant to find the place again, but he failed in his quest, despite intensive searching.

Ever since, legend has it that the stone of destiny which had been given up to the English by King Edward is only a replica and that the Scots had hidden the genuine stone. All the Kings of England had therefore been crowned on the wrong stone.

The proof behind this story is troubling since there are gold coins that show the old Kings of Scotland seated on the stone of destiny, bearing a crown and a sceptre. But on these coins one can clearly see bas-reliefs that look like hieroglyphs. The stone of destiny, on display at Westminster Abbey for many years, bears no ornamentation. Whatever the case may be, the true stone has never been found.