Scone is a busy village that stands astride the A94 Forfar road as it climbs a gentle hill that rises to the north of the Annaty Burn some two miles north east of Perth. Half a mile of open countryside separates it from the north eastern edge of Perth, but in many ways it comes over as a detached suburb of its larger neighbour.
Scone is a name with a great deal of resonance in Scottish history. It was an important Pictish centre for centuries, and following their defeat at the hands of the Vikings in 839 the Picts and the Scots met at Scone to discuss the Pictish succession in 843. Accounts and interpretations of what then happened differ widely, but the story goes that after much alcohol had flowed, Kenneth Mac Alpin's Scots of Dalriada turned on their Pictish hosts and killed them, and Kenneth was subsequently crowned King of the Picts and the Scots at Scone, using the ancient Pictish Stone of Destiny to legitimise the coronation.
Scone, and what became known as the Stone of Scone, became key features in the coronation of many succeeding Kings of Alba and later of Scotland. As William Shakespeare put it in "Macbeth": "So, thanks to all at once, and to each one, Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone." Scone's role as a focal point for the spiritual and ceremonial life of the kingdom grew further when Alexander I founded an Augustinian priory there in 1114. Fifty years later the priory became an abbey, and in 1210, Scone's status was further enhanced when the Parliament of Scotland met there for the first time. It would continue to do so until 1450.
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. This was the start of over four centuries of residence by the Murray family at Scone, which continues today.
The Scone all this relates to, however, is not the Scone you see today. In 1803 the 3rd Earl of Mansfield commissioned the architect William Atkinson to rebuild the 1580s Abbot's Palace, and what emerged was Scone Palace. In 1805, as part of the landscaping of the grounds of the new Scone Palace, the residents of what was later known as Old Scone were resettled in a new village over a mile to the east. This was originally known as New Scone to distinguish it from its predecessor, though it has since simply become known as Scone.
The core of today's Scone is bracketed between the Old Parish Church near the river and the redder stone New Parish Church near the top of the hill. The churchyard of the former is home to a striking memorial to the botanist David Douglas. Also near the foot of the hill and a little off the main road is New Scone's mercat cross. Old Scone's mercat cross, apparently replicated by its 1805 replacement, still stands in its original location near Scone Palace.
A mile and a half north east of Scone is Perth Airport, a busy general aviation and training airfield. This was established in 1936 as Scone Aerodrome and has had a training role throughout much of its life.
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