Scone Palace

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Scone Palace

Scone Palace /ˈskn/ is a Category A listed historic house at Scone, Perthshire, Scotland. It was constructed (by recasting a 16th-century palace) in 1808 (started in 1802 and completed in 1812 according to the tour guides) for the Earls of Mansfield by William Atkinson. Built of red sandstone with a castellated roof, it is a classic example of the late Georgian Gothic style.

In the Middle Ages, the land was the site of a major Augustinian abbey, Scone Abbey, nothing of which now remains above ground level except detached architectural fragments. This was the crowning-place of the Kings of the Scots (on the Stone of Destiny) down to Alexander III.

The grounds of the palace were the first place of introduction to Britain of the Douglas fir tree species,[1] after being introduced by David Douglas.

Scone Abbey[edit]

Main article: Scone Abbey

Scone was as an ancient gathering place of the Picts, and was probably the site of an early Christian church. The place of coronation was called Caislean Credi, 'Hill of Credulity', which survives as the present Moot Hill. In the Middle Ages the mound was marked with a stone cross, but this disappeared probably during the Scottish Reformation in 1559, when the Abbey buildings were sacked by a mob from Dundee.

From 1114 to 1559, Scone was one of Scotland's major abbeys. It was founded by King Alexander I. A representation of the church on the Abbey's seal, and some surviving architectural fragments, show that it was built in the Romanesque style, with a central tower crowned with a spire. Between 1284 and 1402 Scone Abbey (sometimes referred to as the Palace of the Abbots) often served to house the Parliament of Scotland.

Crowning of Bruce, 1306

Alexander II and Alexander III, both crowned at Scone, ruled from 1214 to 1286. For centuries the greatest treasure at Scone was the Stone of Scone upon which the early Kings of Scotland were crowned. When Edward I of England carried off the Stone of Scone to Westminster Abbey in 1296, the Coronation Chair that still stands in the abbey was specially made to fit over it. Robert the Bruce was crowned at Scone in 1306 and the last coronation was of Charles II, when he accepted the Scottish crown in 1651. The Stone of Scone is now in Edinburgh Castle (Historic Scotland) along with the Scottish regalia.

Scone Abbey flourished for over four hundred years. In 1559, it fell victim to a mob from Dundee during the early days of the Reformation and was largely destroyed. In 1580 the abbey estates were granted to Lord Ruthven, later the Earl of Gowrie, who held estates around what is now called Huntingtower Castle. The Ruthvens rebuilt the Abbot's Palace of the old abbey as a grand residence. In 1600, James VI charged the family with treason and their estates at Scone were passed to Sir David Murray of Gospetrie, one of James' loyal followers.

In 1604, Scone was the family seat of the Lords of Scone, a branch of the Murrays of Tullibardine, whose original family seat was Balvaird Castle.

Scone Palace[edit]

Maze at Scone Palace

Presently on view in the state rooms of Scone Palace are fine collections of furniture, ceramics, ivories, and clocks. Some of the prized contents of Scone Palace are Rococo chairs by Pierre Bara, and Dresden and Sèvres porcelains. The gardens and grounds are also open to the public. The gardens of Scone feature Moot Hill, the mound was said to have been created by pilgrims each carrying a bootful of soil to the site in a gesture of fealty to the king. A replica of the Stone of Scone sits on Moot Hill, where coronations occurred. Elsewhere in the garden, there is a modern day maze created of hedges.

The grounds of the Palace are the best-known breeding locality in Scotland for Hawfinch. There are fine woodlands on the grounds and policies of Scone Palace, some of the fir trees being at least 250 years old.

A number of peacocks roam the grounds, including several albino males.

The palace annually hosts the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust's Scottish Game Fair.


Scone Palace circa 1880
  • Adam, Frank and Thomas Innes (2004). The Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 1934. Kessinger Publishing. 
  • Christie, Christopher, The British Country House of the Eighteenth Century, Manchester University Press, Oxford (2000) ISBN 0-7190-4724-2
  • Montgomery-Massingberd Houses of Scotland
  • Treasures of Britain: the Architectural, Cultural, Historical and Natural History of Britain, W. W. Norton Publishing (2002) ISBN 0-393-05740-2
  1. ^ Trust Walks: "Dunkeld and The Hermitage," a podcast by the National Trust for Scotland; 27 June 2009

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°25′27″N 3°26′15″W / 56.42417°N 3.43750°W / 56.42417; -3.43750