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The Stone of Scone

The Stone on which the kings of Scotland have been crowned since the time of Kenneth MacAlpin has mystical significance for the Scottish people. Though there is controversy about its origins, it has acquired, over the centuries, the significance which attaches to objects of historical importance.

Its symbolism was appreciated by Edward I when he carried it off to Westminster and for centuries after it remained under the Coronation Chair, made by Edward I in 1301, on which all English (and Scottish, after 1603) kings and queens have been crowned. Cromwell transferred it to Westminster Hall for his installation as Protector of England.

Its significance has also made it vulnerable to militant groups intent on drawing attention to their dissatisfaction with government. Just before World War I, the Suffragettes drew attention to their just cause by the unconventional act of exploding a bomb in Westminster Abbey and causing the Stone to split, an act which raised cries of 'sacrilege' in the press. The damage done on this occasion was mended by another group whose only motive seems to have been that the Stone belonged in Scotland and not in England. They were a group of students who took the Stone from London to Arbroath where it was found in the cathedral. When returned to London, it was found that the split in the Stone had been repaired with pieces of metal and a note from the Assessor of the University of Glasgow reminded the world that the Stone had been stolen in 1296 and should be returned.

The Stone of Scone was eventually returned to Scotland by Prime Minister John Major, with the approval of Elizabeth II, in November 1996.

The Celtic name of the Stone, now safely ensconced in Edinburgh Castle, is Lia Fail, 'the speaking stone', which named the King who would be chosen. Cambrayin 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 prove true, then the Scots are known to have been Kings where'er men find this stone.

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