BY C. B. DIGBY-BESTE
OR countless centuries this simple block of sandstone, "The Stone of Destiny," has been the seat of Kings — Irish, Scottish, Scythian and, since our own Edward 1, of England's Kings. On it have sat Kings worthy and unworthy; Kings noble and ignoble; Kings destined to greatness and power, and Kings whose only desire was bloodshed and murder. Crowned on it have been such opposing characters as Henry VI of holy memory; Richard III, that prince among murderers; and the Royal robber, Henry VIII.
Earliest tradition describes the stone as the very one on which Jacob, the Patriarch, slept when he dreamed his dream of God's messengers going up and down about God's business, and that was long before the chosen people went into Egypt.
From East to West After this the stone found its way gradually from East to West, and came at last to Ireland. Some will have it that it was brought from Spain to Ireland by Simon Brele, son of King Milo; others that it was brought by a wandering colony of Scythians, and that whenever one of the Scythian royal blood was seated on it, it gave thunderous sounds and prophecies.
Anyway, it eventually reached Ireland and became the inaugural seat of the overlords, only he being crowned King and overlord under whom the stone groaned and spoke and peopheciecl. From Ireland the stone cense to Scotland under Fergus, the first King of Scotland, three hundred and thirty years before Christ, who placed it at Dunstaffnage in Argyllshire. Nine hundred years after Christ, Kenneth II, who united the Picts and Scots under one rule, carried the stone to Scone where it rested in the uneasy atmosphere of early Scotland until in the thirteenth century Edward I took both the Scottish King, John Banks], and the Scottish stone and brought them both to England.
" The Scots Must Reign" At this time there was a Latin inscription on its surface to the effect that—
"Except old saws do fail And wizard's wits be blind The Scots in place must reign Where they this stone shall find" interpreting this to mean that unless the stone were in Scotland they would not have a Scottish King. Therefore the Scots were unceasing in their efforts to get the stone returned and had it come to a choice between Balliol or the stone they would probably have chosen the stone.
Later when Robert Bruce signed the treaty with England which recognised him as King, he added a clause insisting on the return of the stone. But the citizens of London rose and refused to let it go. Nevertheless its return was demanded in every succeeding treaty between the countries. Once a special conference was arranged between Edward HI and David I of Scotland to discuss the stone and its return to Scotland was agreed.
As is usually the way with conferences, nothing happened, and the Scots decided that the prophecy meant that Scottish Kings would reign in England, a solution which was born out by the accession of James VI as James I of England.
So the prophecy was fulfilled and the stone still continues to be the seat of Kings.