There have long been rumblings about bringing the Stone of Destiny back home to Perthshire.
The debate intensified in 1996, when then Prime Minister John Major announced that the relic would be moved out of Westminster Abbey and returned to Scotland.
At the time, Perth and Kinross Council and the Perthshire Tourist Board pooled their resources to put forward a robust – but ultimately unsuccessful – case for putting the Stone back in its original spot in the grounds of Scone Palace.
An announcement in June 2016 that Perth council’s then SNP administration had submitted a formal bid to reclaim the Stone for its planned city hall museum was broadly welcomed.
But the campaign intensified after a passing comment from a senior council official to a Courier journalist in November 2018, which suggested there was not one but two bids on the table.
Historic Environment Scotland was urging the Commissioners of the Regalia – the guardians of the Stone – to keep it where it was in Edinburgh Castle.
The Courier threw its weigh behind the crusade to “bring the Stone home” when the Scottish Government announced a consultation to finally decide the treasure’s resting place.
Perth and Kinross Council, which was still smarting from losing out to Coventry in the battle to become City of Culture 2021, set out its case, arguing that bringing the Stone into the Fair City centre would make it free and accessible for all, while delivering an enormous economic boost to the area.
The crusade was backed by, amongst others, Crieff-born actor Ewan McGregor whose career began on the stage at Perth Theatre.
“It would be a great attraction for the town,” the Trainspotting star said.
There was also cross-party support and an impassioned plea from Perth City Development Board chairman John Bullough who described the six-week consultation as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” and said: “As our greatest national artefact, it has not been given the spotlight and prominence that it deserves – which is a central part of Perth’s excellent bid.”
The Edinburgh Castle camp was a lot quieter, apart from some politicians in the capital who suggested that the Stone should remain where it is, but maybe Perth could borrow it.
The counter-argument involved creating a new “Makers of Majesty” chamber to better display the Stone at Edinburgh Castle.
In the end, about 2,000 people took part in the consultation with three-quarters favouring Perth.