The Relationship Between the Stone and the Scone
Having just gotten back several months ago from a month in Scotland, I have written many articles about devolution, which is a Scottish term for independence. Interestingly, it is fascinating how one of my favorite Scottish foods, which ranks behind only haggis and shortbread, are scones and their relationship to Scottish history. The name of the Scottish scone and the Stone of Scone (also called the Stone of Destiny or latter the Coronation Stone) may be related.
The Stone of Scone is an oblong piece of red sandstone measuring about 2-foot long, and a foot and half wide, and a foot high. It weighs 336 pounds. One of the things that is interesting about the stone is the legend about how it got to Scotland. There is the belief that the stone came from the Holy Lands. Some believe that Jacob rested his head upon the stone when he saw the angels in his visions. (Genesis 28:10-22) The stone then took a circuitous journey to Sicily, Spain, Ireland, and finally it ended up in the village of Scone ca. 840 AD. Legend has it that there was a metal band attached to the stone with these words, which Sir Walter Scott translated as...
Like many things that have centuries of history surrounding them, it is true with the scone and the Stone of Scone. The Stone of Scone was then used in the town of Scone, which at one time many centuries ago was the capital of Scotland. Some, who are into Scottish etymology, believe that the biscuit like food, called the scone, got its name from the town of Scone. The town of Scone was also the site of the early coronations of Scottish kings. When the capital moved to Perth so did the Stone of Scone. Finally, the capital of Scotland moved to Edinburgh, the Stone of Scone went also. In each capital, coronations of all Scottish kings used the Stone of Scone. The last was during the crowning of John de Ballioi in 1292. Finally, when the English took it to London, the English used it for the coronations of British monarchs.
Several years later, Edward I invaded Scotland in 1296 and the stone moved to London. It was placed under a royal throne, which was called the Coronation Chair starting in 1307. The stone has remained there for the last 7-centuries.
It was not until 1950 when some Scottish nationalists took it from Westminster Abbey and attempted to return it to Scotland. However, it was returned in a matter of several short months. Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 was the last monarch that used the Stone of Scone during a coronation. It was not until July 3, 1996 that England returned the Stone of Scone to Scotland.
Enter the issue of independence and devolution. One might wonder why the English returned something that they stole from Scotland 700-years before. They have not returned the Elgin Marbles to Greece, which they stole from the Parthenon and the Greek people.
An explanation for keeping the Elgin Marbles is that Greece was not attempting to become independent from the UK at the time. However, by 1996, there was a growing disenchantment of English rule over Scotland. To quell the mounting political unrest among some in Scotland, the Conservative government thought it best to allow the Scots to hold onto the Stone of Scone when it was not being used for coronations in London. So on November 15, 1996, the English gave back the Stone of Scone to the Scots until the English needed it again in London.
The day of the transfer of Scottish property took place on St. Andrew's Day. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. Interestingly, the return of the Stone of Scone occurred almost exactly 18-years before the Scots will vote on Scottish independence from the UK. The date is set for September 18, 2014.
The Conservative Party and many English have the attitude that if they do something for the Scots like allowing them to hold the Stone of Scone until the English need it that will be enough to quell social unrest among many Scots.
If I were Scottish, that self-righteousness would offend me. I am American with Scottish ancestors, and I am offended. The problem is that the English are majoring in the minors of life. Perhaps the English ought to leave voluntarily as they left Burma when Aung San Suu Kyi's father, Aung San, told them to leave. Scotland is not a colony of England or Westminster.
And finally, William Wallace's statement to the English centuries ago still rings true today: "I am William Wallace... And the rest of you will be spared. Go back to England and tell them there that Scotland's daughters and her sons are yours no more! Tell them Scotland is free!"
Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.