Perthshire Matters: Perth prepares for battle over ancient Stone of Scone

Council chiefs want the Stone of Destiny returned to Perth.
Council chiefs want the Stone of Destiny returned to Perth.

It’s time to pick a side… again.

You’ve probably already planted your flag on planet Brexit and on either side of the Scottish referendum. On blue dress, gold dress, Yanny and Laurel.

Well now the battle lines are being drawn up again. Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

I’m talking, of course, about the “war” that has erupted over the Stone of Destiny.

Perth and Kinross Council announced two years ago that it wanted the ancient relic as the centrepiece of its revamped city hall.

The authority submitted its bid to the stone’s guardians – the Commissioners of the Regalia – and there seemed to be genuine rumblings that Perth would get its way.

But then Historic Environment Scotland went and dropped a bombshell, submitting a counter claim for the stone. The organisation wants the relic to remain part of its collection at Edinburgh Castle.

A final decision will be made by the Queen.

Perth’s case for the stone is a strong one. It is estimated that around 163,000 extra visitors will come to the city to see it at its new home in Perth City Hall.

After all, the Stone historically belongs in Perthshire, having been used for generations as the coronation seat of Scottish kings, along the road at Scone.

And, it is argued, Edinburgh Castle wouldn’t really miss it. It is unlikely the world famous attraction, which last year welcomed a record-breaking 1.7 million visitors, would suffer any great dip in attendance figures if the Stone of Scone wasn’t there.

Edinburgh on the other hand, will argue that the Stone is an important part of its Royal Palace collection, alongside the Crown Jewels.

Members of Team Edinburgh say Perth should forget about its campaign for the stone and focus instead on the attractions it already has.

Easy for them to say.

Given the clout wielded by powerful HES, Perth once again finds itself in the underdog position.

But for Perth’s dream to become one of Europe’s greatest small cities, it is a fight worth fighting.

Let battle commence.

And if we lose? Well, it’s probably not the real stone anyway.