IT’S coming home. That will be a refrain I will hear many times this summer in Germany. But this spring in Perth it already has come home. I’m talking, of course, of the Stone of Destiny, surely the most symbolic stone in the British Isles.

Today our sacred stone stars at the heart of a remarkable new museum that delves deep into the story of Scotland’s second smallest city and isn’t afraid to take on everything from the Clearances and the Jacobites to the Suffragettes and how best to curate “colonial” collections.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the return of the Stone of Destiny – or the Stone of Scone, to reference its original home just outside Perth at Scone Palace – where Scotland’s monarchs were crowned for centuries.

It was stolen by Edward I in 1296 as blatant loot. To rub salt into Scotland’s open wounds, it was enshrined in Westminster Abbey to put Scotland in its rightful place and remained there until enterprising Scottish students liberated it in 1950. It returned to Scotland permanently as part of the restoration of the Scottish Parliament, briefly popping back last year to Westminster Abbey to crown King Charles III.

The National: City finally fulfilling its destiny

Of course, there are a swirl of tales about this not being the actual Stone of Destiny – my favourite is the version that the real stone is in pride of place at The Arlington bar in Glasgow, where it is gleefully hidden in plain sight. As if to emphasise that this is definitely the real stone, they’ve made a big deal of it in Perth, refashioning the old City Hall into the £27 million Perth Museum, with the Stone of Destiny very much centre stage.

I was worried about how you build a museum around a lump of sandstone. But I wasn’t disappointed – the experience of visiting this deeply symbolic stone is brilliantly done. Numbers are strictly limited so you have to book a (free) slot. The stone is set in a sweeping smooth wooden tower, the work of the award-winning Mecanoo architects. This ramps up the drama. As does entering an antechamber where dramatic visuals set the scene. Then doors ease open to allow you into the dark main chamber where the floodlit stone lies entombed. A further film shows you exactly how the first coronation was carried out, with the stone the star.

The new Perth Museum is not all about one stone, insists Xander McDade, Perth’s dynamic 30-year-old Lord Provost: “We are very proud of our museum and the return of the stone is just part of that. This is the start of a journey for Perth and it puts us on a level cultural footing with other Scottish cities. The new museum is for everyone in Perth and free for everyone in Scotland to experience, and to enjoy and learn.”

The National: The Stone of Destiny.

McDade is right to be proud. Other highlights include the museum’s largest exhibit, the Carpow Logboat, a 3000-year-old nine-metre-long Bronze Age logboat remarkably unearthed just a few miles from the museum in 2001. And at 22lb, the striking Strathmore Meteorite is the largest meteorite ever recorded to have smashed into Scotland. Another whopper is Miss Ballantine’s Salmon, the heaviest rod-caught salmon in British history at a scarcely believable 64lbs.

The museum doesn’t just take a deep dive into Perth and Perthshire. Its exhibits resonate through Scottish history. St Madoes Stone unveils our Pictish heritage as far back as the eighth century. The Jacobite Sword makes an impression too, a beauty thought to have been given to Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1739 by James Drummond, the third Duke of Perth.

We fast forward to darker times with the painting of Loch Katrine by Horatio McCulloch. It was part of a romanticisation of the “wild” and “remote” Highlands that still blights perceptions of this inhabited (but also systematically depopulated) landscape today.

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Another tiny exhibit stops me in my tracks. It is the smallest shoe imaginable, a fragile remnant of a child ripped from a cleared community by the Duke of Atholl’s men.

Perth Museum tells many stories. It leaves my brain pinging in myriad directions. The Untold Stories section is brilliant. Half a dozen billowing standards don’t lead warriors into battle. Instead they tell of the cleared souls, of the “Damn Rebel Bitches” (the women “behind” the Jacobite men), and of the plantations that blight Scotland’s past.

Upstairs is a refreshing collection from the UK’s former colonies. A native Māori representative tells me how she is delighted the museum approached a counterpart in New Zealand on how best to tell their story. The entire “colonial” collection is honestly branded “Loot”.

Perth Museum will have temporary exhibitions too and they’ve started with a corker; Unicorn runs until September 22 this year. Remarkably, although the unicorn may be our national animal and deeply symbolic throughout our history, this is the first major exhibition to explore its cultural history in the UK.

Perth Museum breaks a lot of new ground; it expands on the rewriting of so many wrongs much in need of rewriting and quite brilliantly shows off our much-cherished stone.