The Stone of Scone was found on the site of the High Altar at Arbroath Abbey, nearly four months after it disappeared from Westminster Abbey.

The Stone of Scone is a block of red sandstone that was used in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland and, later, the monarchs of England and the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was captured by King Edward I of England in 1296 and taken from Scone Abbey in Scotland to Westminster Abbey in London.

Since it was a powerful symbol of Scottish nationhood, a plot to remove the Stone from Westminster Abbey and return it to Scotland was hatched by University of Glasgow student Ian Hamilton and a number of accomplices. Having secured funding from Scottish businessman Robert Gray, Hamilton and three other students drove to London on Christmas Eve 1950 and put their plan into action.

The three men from the group entered the Abbey through a side door that night, and made their way to the Coronation Chair. They managed to remove the Stone, but damaged the chair itself in the process. The Stone also fell to the floor and broke into two unequal parts. The smaller was quickly taken to a waiting car driven by the one female accomplice, Kay Matheson, while Hamilton returned to load the larger half into a second car.

The two halves were reunited in Scotland a few weeks later, and the Stone was repaired by a stonemason. The conspirators met two Arbroath councillors at the ruined Abbey on 11 April, and laid the Stone on the site of the High Altar. The councillors later informed the police, and the Stone was recovered and returned to Westminster Abbey. It now resides in Edinburgh Castle, having been formally returned to Scotland by the British government in 1996.

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© Scott Allsop