The Stone Of Scone

Also known as the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone (say skoon) is the ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, seen here tucked into the St. Edward’s Throne. And that’s where it needs to be for Saturday’s coronation of King Charles III. Happily, the stone was safely transported to Westminster Cathedral a week ago.

Seen here is the 1902 coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection of lead soldiers and miniatures in the Hay Library at Brown. Anne began collecting on her honeymoon in 1930 and then it kind of got out of hand. There are now 5,000 figures, ranging from ancient Egypt to Queen Elizabeth II, in 96 display cases. Julius Caesar, the Crusades, Napoleon, the Civil War? It’s all here and it’s open to the public.

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The tale of the stone: In 1296, King Edward I of England seized the stone from the Scots and had the throne custom built to house it. From then on, it was used in the coronation ceremonies of the monarchs of England and then Great Britain. On Christmas Day 1950, four Scottish students removed the stone from Westminster Abbey in London. Three months later it turned up 500 miles away at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey. (And yes, there is a movie, described as a heist comedy.) In 1996 the stone was officially returned to Scotland.

The chair itself was originally gilded, painted, and inlaid with glass mosaics, but years of neglect and misuse took their toll. It was covered with brown paint for Queen Victoria’s big day. Ten years ago the chair got an expert cleaning and restoration, with more conservation work being done this year in preparation for the coronation.

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Do yourself a favor and visit this unique collection. Just inquire at the front desk; they will give you directions. And big thanks to Andrew for his assistance.

Free and open to the public, Lead Soldier Collection, third floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, (directions)

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Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in formal dress.

Special cases were fabricated in 1981 when the collection was donated to the library.

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