The Stone of Destiny could return to Perthshire as part of a £20 million drive to boost tourism.
Council bosses are preparing a formal bid to place the ancient treasure at the heart of a major new cultural attraction in Perth city centre.
It is hoped the centuries-old stone will become the city’s answer to Dundee’s V&A and bring an extra 160,000 visitors into the area each year.
Next week, councillors will be asked to approve an official approach to Historic Environment Scotland to have the coronation stone moved from its current home in Edinburgh Castle.
Council leader Ian Miller believes the attraction could pump around £1 million into the local economy each year and will strengthen Perth’s bid for City of Culture Status.
If approved by councillors, a final decision would be taken by the guardians of the stone – the Commissioners of the Regalia – which includes First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. However, any move would have to be formally agreed by the Queen.
The Stone of Scone is the centrepiece of a planned £20 million investment in Perth’s cultural attractions. As part of the deal, Perth Museum and Art Gallery would be transformed into an attraction celebrating Perthshire’s ancient roots.
A new visual arts venue and social space focusing on modern Scots would also be created. The council is keeping tight-lipped on details of the new facility, but it is understood it is likely to be included as part of the long-awaited city hall redevelopment.
The culture revamp is part of an even wider £50 million programme of investments to be rolled out across the region over the next seven years. These will be revealed in the coming days as part of the council’s capital budget.
Mr Miller said the council had been working on the bid for three years: “This could be a real game changer for Perth,” he said. “It will significantly change the way the city is viewed and I hope that everyone will get behind it.
“This is the sort of opportunity that doesn’t come along very often and we need to grasp it with both hands.”
He added: “As leader of Perth and Kinross Council, my view is that the Stone of Destiny, brought to Edinburgh to mark Scottish Devolution, is a major part of Perth’s place at the ancient roots of Scotland’s story.
“I will therefore be asking all councillors to support my motion to formally request consideration by Historic Environment Scotland and the Commissioners of the Regalia for the Stone of Destiny to come to Perth.”
He said: “Perth has a huge potential for growth in the cultural tourism market and this has been identified as a key priority in the Perth City Plan.
“Investing in our existing museum with its nationally recognised collection, and in a significant new venue will help to deliver on that potential.
“The stone will help to deliver this in a relevant setting where it can be seen by local people and worldwide visitors, in venues which tell the story of our ancient roots and modern Scots – a story of local, national and global relevance.”
If all goes to plan, the stone could arrive in Perth in 2020.
A spokeswoman for Historic Environment Scotland said: “Relocating the Stone is a decision for the Commissioners of the Regalia as per the 1996 Royal Warrant which sets out arrangements and responsibilities for the safekeeping of the Stone at the Castle.
“The Commissioners’ role is to advise HM Queen Elizabeth on all matters relating to the Stone including any long-term moves or temporary exchanges and this is where the final decision lies. Any approach should go direct to the Scottish Government Protocol Unit.”
- See Tuesday’s Courier for more on this story.