Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

November – 2022 (Vol. 46, Number 05)

Luxury farm-stay holidays, just one of the travel options for 2023. Photo: VisitScotland/Luigi Di Pasquale.

The Banner Says…

A Man of Destiny

In November 1996 an important piece of Scottish history was returned to Scotland after years in exile. The Stone of Destiny, or also known as the Stone of Scone, had been used for centuries at the coronation of Scotland’s royalty. It was located in Scone in Perthshire, and was built into the seat of a royal coronation chair used for Scottish monarchs and remains a symbol of Scottish nationhood.

The Stone of Destiny

The Stone of Destiny was stolen from Scotland in 1296 by King Edward I and placed in Westminster Abbey, where he had built a coronation throne with the Stone of Scone embedded into it. That chair would be used at the coronation of Edward II in 1301, and since then all British monarchs have been crowned on a throne built around the sacred Scottish stone.

On the very symbolic date of St Andrews Day, 30 November 1996, thousands of people lined Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to witness the Stone of Destiny return to Scotland for the first time in 700 years. However, the stone did make one brief return to Scotland prior to 1996. On Christmas in 1950 four university students, Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart made a brazen and dramatic trip to London which would eventually see the stone come back to Scotland.

Ian Hamilton

The mastermind of the repatriation of the stone was Paisley born law student Ian Hamilton. It was Ian’s own raincoat that was used to haul the 152kg/336 lb. sandstone out of Westminster Abbey, which would lead to one of the largest manhunts in Britain’s history, as well as the first closure of the border between Scotland and England for more than 400 years. The stone was hidden in England before being repaired and turning up draped in a Scottish flag at Arbroath Abbey (where the Declaration of Arbroath was produced in 1320), it returned to Westminster three months later and would not come back to Scotland again until 1996. If this sounds like something out of a movie, well you would be right as Ian Hamilton would go on to write a book which was adapted to film in 2008.

Some long-time readers of the Scottish Banner may recall Ian contributed to our pages over the years and remained a friend of the Banner. It was certainly with sadness to learn that in October Mr Hamilton passed away at the amazing age of 97, the last living member of the 1950 student plot. Ian Hamilton was obviously much more than this one event, as he became a very successful lawyer, author and father, but it was this iconic moment in the history of the UK which will forever define him and would win him respect and praise from generations of people.

In this issue

Born in Lerwick in Shetland Ian Bairnson is a talented multiinstrumentalist who has worked with some of the best in the business. His sound has been played across the world with acts such as The Alan Parsons Project, Kate Bush (whose career has recently skyrocketed to a new generation), Paul McCartney and Wings, Chris De Burgh, Elaine Paige, Mick Fleetwood, Tom Jones, and Kenny Rogers to name a few. With millions of record sales he really is Shetlands music maker.

This month we highlight two important Clan Chief inaugurations which recently took place in Scotland. Clan Buchanan had to wait for over 340 years to get their new Chief, John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan who we have featured in the Scottish Banner previously.
Richard McBain of McBain travelled back to Scotland from the USA to become the 23rd Chief of Clan MacBain. Two proud Clan’s welcomed new Chief’s to take on the role as head of the Clan and spearhead the Clan’s place in our modern world.

Myths of the stone

There are many myths which surround the origins of the Stone of Destiny, could it in fact be from Egypt, Spain, Italy or simply quarried from Perthshire stone (geological results did confirm that the stone was quarried from the Scone area)? Did King Edward I in fact bring back the real stone all those years ago? Some say he got a replica faked by local monks. In fact, it was Ian Hamilton himself who told the Scottish Banner back in 2014 that he was convinced the real stone went to England for all those years.

Mr Hamilton said: “Had it been a substitute for Edward to carry off it would have been produced when King Robert the Bruce remained in his kingdom. It wasn’t.” The stone is still in Edinburgh today but plans for it to move are now underway. Next year the world will witness the Coronation of King Charles III, and it is expected the Stone of Destiny will be sent back to London for this event, this was the agreement with Scotland that it should return to London for Coronation events. This will be the first such use since 1953.

In 2024 the stone will then be moved from Edinburgh Castle to become the centrepiece of Perth’s new £26.5 million museum at City Hall, close to where it was first installed at Scone Abbey around AD841, and where it is hoped to remain as a symbol of the great nation of Scotland, and somewhere Mr Hamilton would likely very much approve of.

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