A NEW book is exploring the mysterious history of one of Scotland’s most iconic artefacts, just in time for its return to a new city centre museum.

We previously told how the Stone of Destiny left Edinburgh Castle to make its way to Perth Museum, with tickets to see it on opening weekend selling out “in minutes”.

Now, former councillor and provost John Hulbert has released his third book, The Stone of Destiny and The Scots. 

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It explores the history, myths and legends of the Stone of Destiny and importantly delves into the whether or not Edward I was deceived when he took the stone to Westminster after his invasion of Scotland. 

Speaking to The National, Hulbert explains his book tells the story of the Scots – an ancient tribe who journeyed from Scythia via Italy and North Africa before eventually landing in Ireland.

Hulbert’s book suggests that they brought a stone on their journey which was used for 1000 years at the inauguration ceremonies for the kings of Ireland before eventually making its way to Scotland.

He explained: “The Scots did not rest in Ireland and gradually they colonised the area now known as Argyll and the Inner Hebrides.

“In about 500AD, they brought the stone across the Irish Sea, and it was used in the inauguration ceremonies of the earliest kings until the crowning of Kenneth MacAlpin in 843AD.”

He added that most historians believe that MacAlpin abandoned the ancient "Irish" stone and took over the one we now have in Perth.

However, Hulbert believes the other possibility is that following MacAlpin’s death, his successors were still inaugurated on the ancient “Irish” stone until 1296.

Where things get particularly interesting however is that Hulbert suggests Abbott Henry of Scone Abbey, fearful that the Stone of Destiny would be stolen by Edward I of England, replaced the original Scots’ stone with a block of local sandstone – and it is that which is now housed in Perth (below).

The National: The Stone of Destiny will be available to view from this weekend

While some have dismissed the suggestion of an ancient stone from Ireland as nothing but myth and fantasy, the book looks to use new evidence from DNA, archaeological and linguistic sources to examine the claim.

The book effectively argues that there is therefore two stones – the ancient Scots’ one which has now been lost and the Stone of Scone, illegally seized by Edward I, which is now housed in Perth Museum.

It concludes that we should accept Scotland has two stones, with one of them lost to time – but Hulbert is keen to stress this should not detract whatsoever from the significance of the one currently housed in Perth Museum (below).

The National:

“One thing I worry a little about with this book is that people will think I think the stone is a fake, but it’s over 700 years old and has a long and significant history,” he says.

“We should be affording it the celebration it deserves, so I’m very happy that we’ve got the stone here in Perth and I’m hoping we’ll make the most of it.

“I wouldn’t want my book to detract from that but I think it’s important to get the facts right, that’s important to me.”

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Hulbert isn’t the only author to release a new book on the subject, with David Maule’s The Mysterious Case of the Stone of Destiny – described as a “historical detective whodunnit” also exploring whether Edward I stole the real stone or if he was deceived.  

The Stone of Destiny is currently being housed in Perth Museum, which is set to open to the public on Saturday, March 30.