News that officials have confirmed the transportation of a mysterious slab of sandstone as a key element in King Charles III’s coronation. prepare for Westminster Abbey, made many ask: What is the Stone of Destiny?
The upcoming coronation of the king has meant the revival of numerous artifacts and traditions that have not seen the light of day for decades.
One of these is the Stone of Destiny, a powerful stone that was part of the throne in Westminster Abbey for centuries after it was stolen from Scotland. Monarchs of England and then Great Britain sat on the throne during coronation ceremonies, with the stone serving as a symbol of the monarchy’s power.
The stone is over half a meter long, with an iron ring on each side and a couple of crosses roughly etched into the surface, a far cry from the intricate carvings one would expect of an ancient artifact of its importance.
Although simple in appearance, the pink, pockmarked rectangle of stone, also known as the Stone of Scone, symbolizes hundreds of years of power struggles and conflicts, with true Scottish kings traditionally being crowned on the stone for hundreds of years.
In 1996 the stone was officially returned to Scotland. The Coronation of King Charles III. is being brought to Westminster for the first time since.
HOW A STONE BECAME SACRED
No one knows the full story of how and why this stone became such a huge symbol.
Its earliest origins have been lost over time, according to Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages Edinburgh Castle, where the stone is normally displayed.
Legends abound as to its origins, including that it dates back to Biblical times and was the same stone described as a prophet’s pillow. According to Historic UK’s website, the stone was said to have been brought to Spain from Syria to Egypt by King Gathelus, whose descendant then brought the stone to Ireland. From there it probably moved to Scotland with the invading Scots.
The different stories about its origin are often at odds with each other and with other historical facts.
But history seems to agree that in 1296, after the stone had been used at the coronations of Scottish kings for hundreds of years, this ancient symbol of the Scottish monarchy was confiscated by King Edward I of England.
A new throne called the Coronation Seat was built to hold the stone, which was kept on a shelf beneath the seat of the throne, and it was this throne that was used at all the coronation ceremonies of subsequent monarchs of England and then Great Britain – including the late one Queen Elizabeth II
BACK TO WESTMINSTER
In 1996 the stone was carefully removed from the throne to be returned to Scotland. It took conservation specialists more than six hours to carefully pull the block from the coronation chair.
This wasn’t the first time Scotland had tried to reclaim its property. In 1950, three University of Glasgow students broke into Westminster Abbey to steal the stone, dropping it on the ground and breaking off a corner. They managed to escape back to Scotland and three months later the stone was discovered in an abbey in Scotland and subsequently returned to Westminster Abbey.
When the stone officially returned to Scotland in 1996, 10,000 people queued to catch a glimpse of it as it made its procession into Edinburgh Castle.
Although the coronation date for King Charles III. has not yet been formally determined, HES confirmed the stone would travel back to Westminster Abbey for the ceremony.
After that, the group said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca, it will be returned to Scotland.
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