When proposals to return the Stone of Destiny to Scotland were unveiled, Angus was quick to make the case for Arbroath to be its new home.
A campaign led by then council leader Ian Hudghton and MP Andrew Welsh was launched in 1996 and letters of support from individuals and local businesses, ranging from hospitality venues to construction firms flooded in.
Angus Council lodged a comprehensive case to house the stone in Arbroath Abbey, arguing the stone would boost historically low visitor numbers to the 12th Century monument.
The town also enjoyed excellent transport links making it accessible to visitors, said backers.
Pointing to the abbey’s significance in Scottish history, the council submission concluded “there was no more suitable location in which to interpret the story of the stone and the Scottish nation.”
Although there had always been stories that the stone taken by Edward I was a hastily made decoy, the campaign re-ignited rumours that the one taken from Westminster Abbey had itself been swapped with one of a number of replicas made in the months following its removal.
One version had it that the original stone was buried, perhaps in the Angus glens or the highlands – its location known only to a few – and would only be returned when Scotland regained its independence.
Historic Scotland admitted it did have a replica stone in Arbroath and the fact it was kept in a specially made box and locked in a tower off-limits to the public helped to fuel speculation.
Locally, it was an open secret in the town that a copy was in the Abbey, with various monument managers over the years taking a lucky few people into the tower, where they were able to sit on the stone and claim the throne of Scotland.
It is not known how close Arbroath came to being selected as the new location, but the process sparked a surge of interest in the Abbey and its link to the iconic Stone of Destiny.
Proposals to mark the anniversary of the stone being left at Arbroath Abbey following the Westminster stunt have been postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.