Scone Palace

Summertime is peak visitor time here and with family back in town recently who've been to Edinburgh several times it was time to venture out of the city with them. Luckily we had access to a car for the weekend which does make doing that a little easy and after taking them to a few of my favourite spots close to Edinburgh we decided to head a little further north up to Scone palace.


The Scone palace we can visit today was completed in 1808 but the site has a long history as an important religious gathering place of the Picts, the site of an early Christian church as well as an Augustinian priory. In the 12th century the priory was granted abbey status and the abbot's residence became a palace. Most famously though it was the home of the Stone of Scone and for nearly 1000 years, the crowning place of Scottish kings, from Kenneth MacAlpin who created the Kingdom of Scone in the 9th century onwards. The stone was removed by King Edward l in 1296 and became part of the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. Despite that though since that first coronation Scone has seen many more including the crowning of Robert the Bruce in 1306 and the last one on this ancient site being Charles ll when he accepted the Scottish crown in 1651. 

The Stone of Scone itself is a block of red sandstone and was historically kept at the now ruined Scone Abbey. As I mentioned above tradition states it was first used for the coronation of Kenneth MacAlpin, the 36th king of Dalriada. Dalriada was a Gaelic overkingdom (an area composed of several kingdoms presided over by an overking, a king who has sovereignty over inferior kings or ruling princes) which included parts of western Scotland and north eastern Ireland, what is roughly now modern day Argyll in Scotland and County Antrim in Northern Ireland. However the historical view states that it was Fergus, son of Erc (the king of Irish Dalriada) who brought the stone from Ireland to Argyll and it was he who was first crowned on it.

Whatever the truth the stone has quite a history having, as I mentioned previously, been captured in 1296 by Edward l as part of the spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey. There it was fitted into the coronation chair, known as King Edward's chair and from then most subsequent English sovereigns were crowned on it. On Christmas Day 1950 though four Scottish students reclaimed the stone from the abbey but in the process of removing it the stone broke into two pieces, taking the larger piece the students returned to Scotland with it. An extensive search for the stone proved unsuccessful with the part they took eventually being left on the altar of Arbroath abbey in April 1951. From here it was returned to Westminster one again and rumours subsequently circulated that the returned stone was actually only a copy. In 1996 the stone was finally returned to Scotland once more when it was moved to Edinburgh castle.


As a visitor to the palace there is plenty to see, the state rooms with their sumptuous furniture, extensive collections of furniture and ceramics as well as lots of intimate family photos which wouldn't look out of place in any family home or photo album. On our visit we only explored the palace but the grounds are extensive too and definitely need to be investigated if I return. One of the most interesting displays in the palace was the one about Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dido was born into slavery, the daughter of Maria Belle a black African woman and Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsay the nephew of the 1st Earl of Mansfield. Following her mother's death she was brought into the care of the Earl of Mansfield and raised at Kenwood House in London where the Earl and Countess of Mansfield lived. Earl Mansfield in his role as Lord Chief Justice ultimately took the first steps towards abolishing slavery, finding in 1772 that slavery had no precedent in common law in Britain and many believe that Dido would have had some influence on him and this decision in one way or another. Dido famously features in a portrait housed at the palace with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, this portrait, which has fascinated many since it was painted and the high status she was granted really were unique for the time and the place. If you head to the palace make sure to see this interesting exhibition dedicated to her and her life for yourself.

Without doubt Scone palace is well worth a visit. It's played a crucial part in Scotland's history especially its part in the history of the crowning of Scotland's kings and is now a place of amazing splendour full of treasures to discover. The palace was utterly fascinating and I definitely need to return to explore the grounds more. Have you visited? What was your favourite part?

Comments

  1. Lovely post.

    I am grateful that this is so close to home. I think my favourite part has to be the gardens though. We love the huge trees and watching the red squirrels here too.

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    Replies
    1. They looked lovely, I need to return again and explore them further.

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