I have the real Stone of Scone in the pub and I will create it, says the landlord

A few customers sit informally with a stone in the Arlington Bar, which the owners are convinced is the real Stone of Destiny – Stuart Nicol

When King Charles is crowned at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, regulars at one of Glasgow’s oldest pubs will give a knowing nod to a red sandstone block set in an alcove.

Owners and drinkers of The Arlington pubs are confident that the historic and symbolic Stone of Destiny, housed in the Medieval Coronation Chair, will be a mockery on that day.

Instead, they insist that it takes pride of place in a glass cabinet in the bar – the Stone of Destiny – or the sacred Stone of Scon.

“It’s The Stone of Destiny and it’s not going down to London for the Coronation – it’s staying here,” said Kenny Low, the pub’s landlord.

The owners of The Arlington in Glasgow claim that the bar has the real Stone of Scone - Stuart Nicol

The owners of The Arlington in Glasgow claim that the bar has the real Stone of Scone – Stuart Nicol

Now the pub is preparing to use carbon dating to try to prove that the 335lb (152kg) rock is bedrock dating back to biblical times.

Students succeeded a stone from Westminster

For centuries, the stone was kept at Skene Abbey near Perth, now in ruins, where it was used as a seat for the inauguration of ancient Scottish kings.

In 1296, King Edward I of England captured it as a spoil in the War of Independence and incorporated it into the City of Coronation in Westminster Abbey. It has been used in coronation ceremonies for every British monarch since then.

But on Christmas Day in 1950, four Scottish students drove from Glasgow to London to reclaim it, and make a political statement about Scottish nationalism.

What the Arlington in Glasgow says is on display is the actual Stone of Destiny, which is the stone a monarch sits on top of when they are crowned - Stuart Nicol

What the Arlington in Glasgow says is on display is the actual Stone of Destiny, which is the stone a monarch sits on top of when they are crowned – Stuart Nicol

Ian Hamilton, a 25-year-old Glasgow University law student, led the gang that broke into Westminster Abbey and took the stone from the Coronation Chair.

For the first time in 400 years, borders between Scotland and England were closed after police correctly assumed it had been stolen because of its nationalist significance. The gang stopped him in Rochester and a garage in Birmingham before smuggling him back over the border.

Perhaps they no doubt felt that their daring escape deserved a celebratory pint or two. So they went to their local hangout, The Arlington, which opened in 1860 and is popular with students, as well as comedian Sir Billy Connolly.

The Coronation Chair, with the Scone Stone, Westminster Abbey in London in 1937 - Print Collector/Hulton Archives

The Coronation Chair, with the Scone Stone, Westminster Abbey in London in 1937 – Print Collector/Hulton Archives

It is said that they took the stone to the bar where members of the Scottish Covenant Association, who were campaigning for a Scottish parliament, enthusiastically welcomed its return north of the border.

After a few months it was decided that the heist had achieved its political goals and that the stone should be returned. By then, Hamilton was the prime suspect after library records showed he took out every book under the stone before the heist.

In April 1951, the stone was found at the ruins of Aberbroth Abbey and returned to Westminster Abbey in London. It was then brought back to Scotland in 1996 and can now be seen in Edinburgh Castle.

However, many are convinced that the stone repaired by a Glasgow mason is a replica of the one stolen from London after it was broken in the Westminster raid.

Arran Rooley, bar manager of The Arlington, next to the 'real' Stone of Destiny - Stuart Nicol

Arran Rooley, bar manager of The Arlington, next to the ‘real’ Stone of Destiny – Stuart Nicol

‘The mystery is deeper’

David Low, Kenny’s brother and owner of The Arlington, said: “The stone that was removed from Westminster Abbey in 1950 is not the stone that was returned to Abercrombie in 1951 and taken back to Westminster Abbey and returned back to Scotland in 1996 and. which will be used in the Coronation for the King.

“We have taken the stone from Westminster Abbey in the pub. No one can disprove what we are saying. And, because the four students who built the stone are now dead, the mystery surrounding the stone has deepened.”

The stone is said to have been found “secretly” in one of the pub seats.

Above the Arlington stone a placard explains how “Edward Longshanks triumphantly marched out of Scotland with the ancient symbol of Caledonian nationhood effectively under his arm” before an “emotional homecoming” in Edinburgh in 1996 after being “held” by Westminster Abbey for seven hundred years. “.

He says that “the stone, however, already came back in 1950” when “naughty students .. stole it”.

“For relief, these thirsty students carried it out of their car and placed it on the bar of The Arlington while enjoying a pint,” he continues.

“There are many stories around Scotland that the students gave a replica to the police and the real stone is here in the Arlington Bar.”

The brothers admit that it is very popular with tourists. They even offer Stone of Destiny lager.

A display panel explaining the story of the Stone of Destiny, which sits above the stone in the bar - Stuart Nicol

A display panel explaining the story of the Stone of Destiny, which sits above the stone in the bar – Stuart Nicol

“The folklore and mythology of the stone draws tourists in,” Kenny said, adding that American and Japanese tourists often take photos next to it.

“The locals are happy to have him here. They are proud of him and the fact that the people who plotted to bring him back to Scotland were regulars here,” he said.

David said the origins of the two stones – in the pub and Edinburgh Castle – are “the same”. “We’re going to carbon test ours to get a year for it,” he said.

In 2008, Alex Salmond, then first minister of the Scottish National Party, joined the debate saying that the stone in Edinburgh Castle was fake as it was probably a replica of the one built by Edward I himself.

The Celtic name of the stone is Lia Fail, which means “the speaking stone”. Its exact origins are disputed. Some claim it was brought over from Ireland in 840AD. Others say it dates back to biblical times and was brought through Syria, Egypt and Spain.

According to legend, Jacob used the ancient stone as an earring when he dreamed of a ladder to heaven.

When asked if his pub would be showing the Coronation, Kenny replied: “We’re just a music bar. There are no televisions in the pub. So, no.”

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