Scottish Lia Fail, the Speaking Stone, Stone of Destiny

Scottish Coronations

The Scottish stone of destiny or Lia Fail is the stone upon which the true kings of Scotland have traditionally been crowned. A symbol of the rituals used by the kings governing parts of western Scotland and northeastern Ireland, on each side of the North Channel as well as and by the Picts.

Stone of Destiny

Description: Quite plain and unremarkable. A simple oblong block of red sandstone, measuring some 650mm in length by 400mm wide, and 27mm deep: with chisel marks apparent on its flat top and metal lifting rings embedded at each end.

The Legend: Lia Fail is believed to be the stone used as a pillow by the Israelite patriarch in the Book of Genesis. The coronation stone of the Hebrew nation called Israelites. This stone was named Beth-el (house of God) by the Jacob about 2000 BC and remained with his descendants.

About 583, BC. a ship arrived port at the north-east of Ireland, now known as Carrickfergus. On board was a Princess named Tamar Tephi of Judah and the prophet Jeremiah. One of their possessions was a large rough stone. Before his coronation, King Eochaidh of Ireland, met Tamar Tephi, and after Jeremiah had given his consent they were married, and both were crowned on the Stone of Destiny.

On it the supreme Kings of Ireland were subsequently crowned at Tara. A descendant, Fergus I, removed it to Iona, where the kingdom of the Scots was established. He was anointed King on this Stone of Destiny. The stone remained in the Coronation Chair of the Kings of Scotland from about 506 A.D.

It was Kenneth I (MacAlpin), the 36th King of Dalriada who united the Scots and Pictish kingdoms. His father Alpin had been a Dalraid Scot and his mother was Pictish. He moved his capital to Scone from western Scotland around 840AD taking the Stone of Destiny with him. All future Scottish kings would henceforth be enthroned on the Stone of Destiny atop Moot Hill at Scone Palace in Perthshire. John Balliol was the last Scottish king to use the Stone of Destiny in 1292.

British Coronation Chair

The Stone of Destiny remained at Scone until it was forcibly removed by the English King Edward I (“Hammer of the Scots”) after his Scottish victories in 1296, and was supposably taken to Westminster Abbey in London. The current British coronation throne was made about 1301 and it was first used at the coronation of Edward II, and thereafter to crown every subsequent king and queen of England. The stone of destiny is housed neatly below the seat.

Another legend is that as King Edward I approached the palace, the monks of Scone hastily removed the Stone of Destiny and hid it, replacing it with another stone of similar size and shape. And it was this replacement stone which the English King carried off in triumph back to London.