The Stone of Destiny & The Scots

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In December 2020, it was announced that the Stone of Destiny was to be returned to Perth to be the centrepiece of the new Perth Museum. In this location, the Stone of Destiny is as near as it is possible to be to its historical location in Scone Abbey. This is as it should be. It is where the Stone of Destiny belongs.

This book tells the story of the Stone of Destiny and The Scots, an ancient wandering people, referred to in the Declaration of Arbroath. The chronicles record that they brought the stone from Spain to Ireland and then to Argyll, but these accounts have been dismissed by most experts as, ‘nothing by myth and fantasy’. The book, however, reports new evidence from DNA, archaeological and linguistic sources, which suggests that there may be more than a kernel of truth in that legendary claim.

Dr Hulbert argues that there must be two Stones of Destiny – the ancient ‘Irish’ one which is now lost, and the Stone of Scone, quarried from Kincarrathie, located about a mile from Scone Abbey. The ‘Irish’ Stone may have been discarded by MacAlpin in favour of a local Pictish icon in 843, or, more likely, it may have been substituted by the monks of Scone Abbey to deceive Edward I in 1296. The book speculates about the ultimate fate of that ‘Irish’ Stone.
Meanwhile the Stone of Scone was exiled to Westminster Abbey, where it remained for 700 years. Its history before this exile, and possible previous uses, are explored, as is the political manoeuvring which led to its return to Scotland in 1996. Its journey from Westminster Abbey to Edinburgh Castle, and the elaborate ceremony of its handover (akin to that afforded to a visiting Head of State) are described, along with the conversion of Perth’s century-old City Hall to a prestigious museum fit for such an important national icon.

Dr John Hulbert was brought up in St Andrews and studied medicine in Edinburgh. He worked first in medical research and then was a GP for over 30 years. He lives with his wife, Sara, in the Perthshire village of Longforgan. Elected to Perth & Kinross Council in 1995, he served as Provost from 2007 to 2012. As Provost, he co-ordinated Perth’s 800th anniversary celebrations in 2010, and led the successful endeavour to restore Perth’s city status which had been unjustly removed in 1975. He described that campaign in his 2016 book, Scotland’s Oldest & Newest City: How Perth regained its city status and why it matters. Drawing on the knowledge he had gained as Provost, he also published Perth: A Comprehensive Guide for Locals and Visitors in 2014. It was the first illustrated guide book for Perth. He is active in several Perth organisations, being chairman of the Friends of St John’s Kirk, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, an Honorary Friend of the Black Watch Castle and Museum, and an Officer of the Order of St John. In 2012, the President of Poland awarded Dr Hulbert the Knights Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, in recognition of his work developing good relations between Perth and Poland. In Longforgan, he is active in the Parish church, and with his wife, Sara, he has established an orchard of ancient varieties of Scottish pear trees, which is recognised by the Plant Heritage Society as a ‘National Collection’.

The writing of this book is timely indeed. Following this extraordinary history over 3,000 years, a powerful campaign was launched from the city of Perth to return the Stone of Destiny to Perthshire, to its rightful home. After some lengthy deliberation, it was decided by the Commissioners of Regalia in Edinburgh that the Stone should come home. So, from 2024, its final resting place is in the new museum of Perth.
Brigadier Sir Melville Jameson KCVO CBE CStJ – Lord Lieutenant of Perth & Kinross, 2006-20, Chief Executive Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 1995-2007

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John Hulbert


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