The Stone of Destiny

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Closes 19 Sep 2019

Material Provided by Perth and Kinross Council

Why Perth?

Perth is at the heart of Scotland’s story. To tell this story Perth and Kinross Council and its partners are investing £23m in a spectacular new museum at the former Perth City Hall, opening early 2022.

In Perth the Stone of Destiny will be free to visit, in a city centre public building two miles from its original home at Scone. 

Many myths surround the Stone of Destiny, but we do know it was probably quarried from Perthshire sandstone. It was used for early kingship ceremonies as Scotland emerged from the realms of the Picts, Gaels and Scots. In the 9th century Kenneth MacAlpin made Perth Scotland’s first capital. 

City Hall was Perth’s 20th century civic heart. Now world class architects Mecanoo, known for projects in New York, Manchester and elsewhere are bringing it back to life. It will tell the story of how Scotland was shaped by people, places and events uniquely associated with Perth. 

The new museum is part of the Council’s ambitious vision to bring Perth’s extraordinary culture alive for local people, for Scotland and UK and international visitors.

Transforming Access

In Perth the Stone of Destiny will be free of charge for everyone to visit, in a public building designed to be fully accessible for all visitors. 

The Stone will be displayed at ground floor level. 

Perth is within 90 minutes’ travel time for over 70% of Scottish residents, around 3.7 million people. 

City Hall has also received £10M from the Tay Cities Deal which is making the region into a culture and creative industries corridor spanning Pitlochry, Perth, Dundee, Arbroath and St Andrews. Projects like V&A Dundee and City Hall are bringing new jobs and economic benefits to the region. 

The experience

At City Hall the wider significance of the Stone can be revealed by displaying it alongside one of the UK’s oldest and most important public collections. The Perth and Kinross collections have formal National Recognition Status.  

From prehistoric and Neolithic stone carvings to huge enigmatic Pictish slabs, the displays will tell the story of how ancient Scotland was shaped. They set the scene for the Stone of Destiny before visitors enter the centrepiece display, the Stone Pavilion.

Visitors will be introduced to the Stone through a spectacular short film sweeping through time to witness how Scotland was born from the Perthshire landscape. Pictish power bases at nearby Forteviot, Abernethy and Dunkeld rose and fell before Scone became the centre of religious and political power and Scotland emerged with Perth as its first capital.  The film will also tell the life story of the Stone from its mythic origins to its role in early kingship ceremonies, and its creation as a powerful symbol of nationhood and monarchy which remains today.

After the film, visitors will see the Stone of Destiny.

Displayed in a custom-designed secure case the Stone will be animated with light and sound, recreating the 13th century crowning of Alexander III. This is the most fully documented of the early kingship ceremonies. 

Using medieval accounts the City Hall team will bring to life the blessing of the young King in Scone Abbey, the ritual procession to nearby Moot Hill and the seating of the King on the Stone of Destiny. This single moment in the history of the Stone will bring its wider significance vividly to life.

Finally visitors will discover the later history of the Stone: its removal to Westminster Abbey by Edward I and its role in Coronations up to the present day.  

From here the displays will take up the wider story of how Perth and Scotland were shaped and in which the Stone plays a part. Visitors will have an unrivalled insight into medieval Perth as a major Scottish Royal Burgh: a melting pot of trade, religion, culture and politics. 

The Scottish Reformation was sparked in Perth at St John’s Kirk, which sits opposite City Hall.  And the Jacobite Risings and the Highland Clearances profoundly changed Perthshire people and places from the eighteenth century onwards.

Beyond City Hall 

A short walk away is Perth Museum and Art Gallery. Where City Hall tells the story of ancient Scotland, Perth Museum will take up the story of modern Scotland through its stunning art and photography collections. Perth and Kinross holds the largest collection of John Duncan Fergusson, one of the few British artists who participated in the European Impressionist and Modernist movements. Visitors will also be encouraged to enjoy many other heritage attractions nearby. These include Scone Palace itself, the Black Watch Museum, the Loch Tay Iron Age Crannogs and other extraordinary archaeological sites.

Care and conservation 

City Hall is owned by Perth and Kinross Council. It will be managed by Culture Perth and Kinross, the charitable Trust which cares for the museum collections. The highly regarded curatorial team includes a specialist medieval archaeologist, expert in caring for objects as ancient as the Stone. 

The Stone is fragile. Its condition will be closely monitored by a trained conservation officer in line with current UK best practice standards already used for the wider Perth and Kinross collections.

Any conservation work will be carried out by external specialists with further advice from Historic Environment Scotland, Scotland’s national heritage body.

Security

City Hall and the Stone displays are being designed to standards advised by the UK Museums Security Adviser. Police Scotland has advised on wider security.

The Stone will be invigilated at all times during opening hours, with 24 hour security in place.

All City Hall staff will be appointed by Perth and Kinross Council or Culture Perth and Kinross, subject to full pre-employment checks. 

The Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia will receive regular reports on care and condition. No changes to security, care and display arrangements will be made without their permission.

The Stone of Destiny will return to Westminster Abbey for Coronations. The design of City Hall takes this into account.