Stone of Destiny

33 – Stone of Destiny stolen by students

December 25, 1950

TODAY it sits resplendent on display in Edinburgh Castle.

However, 65 years ago it was bundled into the boot of a car outside Westminster Abbey by four nationalist students.

The audacious raid was just another twist in the Stone of Destiny’s life as a holy relic fought over by the Scottish and English for more than 700 years.

The theft, or liberation (depending on your politics) was not without problems.

The group – Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart – managed to break the stone into two during the removal and when it was eventually smuggled north of the Border it had to be repaired by Glasgow stonemason Robert Gray, who is long rumoured to have made copies of it.

Four months passed, with the stone stored in a variety of locations due to the intensifying police search, before the group eventually left it on the altar in the symbolic location of Arbroath Abbey, draped in a Saltire.

Kay Matheson, one of the four who stole the Stone of Destiny at Christmas 1950, welcomes the Stone back to Scotland during a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle.
Kay Matheson, one of the four who stole the Stone of Destiny at Christmas 1950, welcomes the Stone back to Scotland during a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle.

The stone was returned to Westminster and later used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

But that wasn’t the end of the story for the Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone.

On St Andrew’s Day, 1996, the stone was permanently returned to Scotland to sit in Edinburgh Castle alongside the Honours of Scotland, the country’s crown jewels.

A more unfortunate twist was the 2008 film of the 1950 raid, which bombed at the box office.