Scone Palace is historically the heartland of the Scoto-Pictish Kingdom, a legend that was perpetuated by King Kenneth MacAlpine in the mid-9th century, when he made Scone the center of the kingdom, a counterpart of the recently created ecclesiastical seat in Dunkeld. From this time on, the Scottish kings were crowned on the Stone of Destiny, which MacAlpine brought in 838 from Dunstaffnage. Robert the Bruce was crowned here, and every king through Charles in 1651 was also crowned here. The stone was stolen by Edward I in 1296 and carried off to Westminster, where it’s been on the Coronoation Chair ever since. It was returned to Edinburgh Castle in 1996.
Recently, it was offered to return the Stone of Destiny to its position in Scone Palace. It was refused, lending credence to a rumor/legend that the monks at the palace knew that Edward I was going to steal the stone; they placed a fake stone in its place and hid the real stone until the English soldiers left. Scotland doesn’t need the stone from Westminster, since it is a fake and the original never left Scone. Who knows?
The original celtic community in this area was superceded when Alexander I founded an Augustinian Priory here in 1120, the first of that order in Scotland. The priory was colonized by canons from Yorkshire. Like many abbeys, Scone Palace and the abbotts house served as a royal residence during the reign of Robert III 1390-1405.
The abbey was sacked in 1559 destruction following John Knox’s sermon in Perth, and became the property of the Earls of Gowrie, who built a 16th century house here using old palace stones. The estate was bestowed on the Earls of Mansfield in 1600. The 3rd earl commissioned William Atkinson to build a neo-Gothic palatial mansion on the site in 1802-8.
Facing the palace is Moot Hill, now occupied by the 19th century chapel. The name is interesting: The gaelic, Tom-a-mhoid, means aplace where justice would be administered, while the “Boot” version is more incredible but more appealing — when all the earls, chieftans, and other men of consequence came to swear loyalty to the Lord High Ardh, they carried in their boots earth from their own lands, and piled it here, since they could only swear fealty while standingon their own land. Having taken the oath, they emptied their boots on the spot.
The palace was crowded with people, and was one of those red-velvet-rope kinds of places. Lots of replicas of important state stuff (a copy of the crown jewels, a replica of the stone of scone, etc). It was nice, but certainly not worth the £7.50 apiece it took to get in. We were much more interested in the peacocks that wandered the grounds.
I don’t think that I’ve ever seen peacocks this close before — and there are dozens of them screeching and howling. They sound like crying children or screaming women. I can’t imagine living nearby.
The peahens are quite uninterested in the peacocks, of course. I didn’t realize that when they fan their feathers out, they also make noise — like ruffling sounds, and back towards the peahens trying desparately to impress them.
There were a few albino peacocks, too, and we (along with every other tourist in the area) tried to get them to fan out their tails. No luck. We obviously weren’t as attractive as the peahens.