Illustrated Catholic Family Annual – The Stone of Scone

Article

This famous stone, once called the Palladium of Scotland, has a remarkable history, besides having been the subject of wildly romantic tales and legendary lore. It is still an object of high antiquarian interest, an emblem of royal state, and part of the coronation furniture in Westminster Abbey. It has also been noticed by the pens of some of Scotland’s greatest literary worthies, from the venerable Wyntoun and Hector Boece to Sir Walter Scott. It was called in Gaelic the Lia faile, or Stone of Destiny, and was fabled to have been brought from Spain to Ireland, where it served for many ages as the coronation seat of kings. The tradition further says that from there it was conveyed to Iona, or Saint Columba’s Island (Icolmkill), by Fergus, the son of Erc, who led the Dalriadic Scots to the shores of Argyllshire; but its true history only begins at Dunstaffhage, a castle of great strength and antiquity, and one of the earliest strongholds of the Scoto-Irish princes on the mainland. How, by whom, or when the Lia faile came to be there is matter of vague report; but it was certainly taken away in the year 834 by Kenneth III, Macalpine when the princes of the Scottish race extended their rule over the kingdom of the Picts, and deposited in the Abbey of Scone, on the beautiful banks of the Tay, in Perthshire. All the kings of the country, from Kenneth II to John Baliol (1292), were attracted by the stone to be crowned in that famous abbey. Edward I. removed the stone to his own capital in 1296, and must have thought a great deal of it, for he placed it “near the altar, before the shrine of Saint Edward, in Westminster Abbey,” where it remains, and is used as part of the chair in which the British sovereigns are crowned. On it was the following inscription in leonine verse:

Ni fallat fatum Scoti quocumque locatum
Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem,

which has been neatly rendered into English:

Or fate is false or prophecy is vain,
Orwhere this stone is found a Scottish king shall reign.

The virtue supposed to be attached to this stone doubtless more easily reconciled the Scotch to waive the performance of the particular stipulation for its surrender in the treaty of peace between Robert Bruce and Edward III, which was never carried out by reason of the opposition of the Londoners, who seem to have taken a fancy to it. So deep-rooted, however, was the belief of the Scots in the augury that many looked upon the accession of the Stuarts to the English throne as the fulfilment of the prediction.

MLA Citation

  • “The Stone of Scone”. Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1875. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 January 2017. Web. 27 June 2017. <>