What is the Stone of Destiny?

29 April 2023
The Stone of Destiny has played an important role in the coronation ceremonies of Scottish and British monarchs for centuries. Find out more about the Stone in our special history guide.

According to legend, the stone was brought from Ireland to Scotland in the 9th or 10th century, and was used as the coronation stone for Scottish kings. In 1296, the English king Edward I took the stone from Scotland and brought it to Westminster Abbey in London, where it was used in the coronation of English and later British monarchs.

Sign up to History Scotland to receive free Scottish history articles and updates direct to your inbox. SIGN UP NOW 

Where is the Stone of Destiny kept?

Edinburgh Castle is now the permanent home of the Stone of Destiny. It was only returned to Scotland from Westminster Abbey on 15 November 1996.

The stone had previously been taken from the Abbey by students in 1951, who removed it by car back to Scotland, before it was found after four months and returned to London.

On 30 November 1996, fifteen days after the return of the stone, thousands of people lined the Royal Mile in Edinburgh to watch troops escort the stone from Holyrood Palace up to Edinburgh Castle. The stone was received by Scottish Secretary of State Michael Forsyth, who received it from Prince Andrew, representing the Queen.

Content continues after advertisements

Further reading on the Stone of Destiny

The Stone of Destiny in recent ceremonies

The Stone was used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, where it was placed under her throne during the ceremony.

When King Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales in 1969, the Stone of Destiny was also present at the ceremony, although it was not used as a part of the actual investiture. Instead, it was placed near the altar during the service.

The Stone of Destiny travelled back to London in April 2023 for the coronation of King Charles III and will return to Edinburgh following the ceremony.

What does the Stone of Destiny look like?

The is roughly rectangular in shape and weighs around 336 pounds (152 kg). Made of red sandstone, it is said to have special powers, and is also known as the Stone of Destiny because it is said to have been used by Jacob as a pillow in the Bible.

It is also known as Stone of Scone, and the 'Coronation Stone'.