Edward I Steal the Real Stone of Destiny?
are many stories surrounding the origins of the ancient seat of
Scotlands kings - the Stone of Destiny.
According to legend, the stone came from the Holy Land, where Jacob
used it as a pillow when he had his vision of the angels. Another
theory from a 15th century source suggests that the daughter of
an Egyptian pharaoh brought the stone to Ireland, after eloping
with a Celtic prince. Furthermore, whilst it lay on the Emerald
Isle, St Patrick himself blessed the stone for use in the coronation
Prior to 1296,
there is no written evidence of the Stone, so there are many theories
as to its origins. Historical sources suggest that the Scots may
have used it as a coronation symbol for the Kings of Dal Riata at
Dunadd until about AD 850.
John Balliol was crowned, it remained housed in Scone Palace until
1296, when Edward I decided to take the stone as a souvenir of his
victories over the Scots. One myth states that the Abbott of Perth
actually handed over a drainage cover to the English, while monks
from Scone Abbey took the real stone and hid it on Dunsinnan Hill.
(or the drainage cover) sat under the coronation chair in Westminster
Abbey until it was safely returned to Scotland on St Andrews
Day in 1996. Thankfully, extensive scientific tests and research
has concluded that the stone which now sits in Edinburgh Castle
is in fact the genuine article - finally putting to rest the glut
of conspiracy theories as to its whereabouts.
Englishmen with Tails?
One of the oddest phenomenon of the medieval period was the belief
that the enemy had tails. The Scots said it of the English, the
English said it of the French, and it seemed to be a common insult
to hurl at one's opponents.
In his chronicle, 'The Scotichronicon' (c. 1440), Walter Bower relates
the story of how some of the English acquired their tails. Apparently,
in 597, when St Augustine came to preach the word of God to the
West Saxons in Dorset, he came to the village of Muglington where
the people distorted and contradicted what he said, or simply wouldn’t
listen to him. They even had the audacity to hang fish tails from
The story goes that God decided to punish these Saxons, along with
their descendants and the rest of their country, for this insult
to one of his anointed messengers. As Bower relates: ‘For God smote
them in their hinder parts, giving them everlasting shame so that
in the private parts both of themselves and their descendants all
a like were born with a tail.’
Whether this story was widely known by the Scots, or whether having
a tail was simply one of the fashionable insults of the day is not
known. We can only assume from the level of violence between the
two nations at the time that worse slurs were traded.