Where does the real Stone of Scone lie?

WHEN SCOTLAND'S Stone of Destiny was returned to Edinburgh in 1996, a nation thought that its holiest relic, used for coronations a millennium earlier, had at last come home.

The Stone of Scone had been away, with one celebrated exception, for 700 years, since the Hammer of the Scots, Edward I, took it to England as war booty, and its return seemed to offer modern blessing to Scottish nationalism.

Until this week, when the story gained more twists than Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Knights Templar announced that, actually, they had the real stone, reputed to have been used as a pillow by Jacob in biblical times, and offered it to the new Scottish Parliament.

The knights revealed that they acquired the stone after it was stolen from England by Scottish nationalists in 1950. During the four months before the police caught up with the thieves, a couple of copies were apparently made by a Glasgow stonemason.

The one that went back to England (and subsequently was returned to Scotland in 1996) was a fake, say the knights.

All this has finally come to light because of the recent death of the Rev Dr John MacKay Nimmo, a character with whom Indiana Jones would feel familiar.

Dr Nimmo was a Chevalier with the Knights Templar of Scotland and a Church of Scotland minister and had for decades regarded himself as guardian of the stone.

Dr Nimmo led a shadowy double life because of the stone, which weighs 33lb, and whose only decoration is a Latin cross. Three years ago, when the "Other Stone" came north, he hid his "original" under the beaten earth floor of a farmer's Perthshire outhouse, for fear that all the interest would lead to its discovery.

However, it was Dr Nimmo's dying wish that it should be given to the Scottish Parliament. "My husband was never in any doubt that this was the genuine stone stolen from Westminster Abbey," said Jean Nimmo, the minister's widow.

The experts are convinced that Dr Nimmo was wrong. Historic Scotland said that it is satisfied that the stone already in Edinburgh Castle is the real thing.

They are confident it is "the stone that was taken south by Edward I in 1296". The Scottish Executive agrees. But the Scottish Parliament will debate the matter in September.

There are,however, two further twists to the saga.

First, the death this week, aged 99, of Margaret Pearl Cook, one of the five founder- members of the Scottish National Party.

Miss Cook told her nephew that the stone apparently returned to England in 1950 after the theft was a fake and she knew the location of the real one. No one knows whether she was referring to Dr Nimmo's stone, currently under the guardianship of the knights beneath an iron grille in a church in Dull, Perthshire.

However, she may have been thinking of a separate stone said to have been buried on Dunsinane Hill by the monks of Scone in the 13th century.

The monks are said to have cleverly made a copy of this original. The joke, say Scots in the know, is on Edward I. The Stone of Scone never left Scotland, they insist.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas