AROUND 10,000 people turned out to see the Stone of Destiny as it was taken to Edinburgh Castle more than ten years ago, ending its long stay in London.

Now officials in Perth aim to have the ancient coronation stone transferred to the Fair City to draw 163,000 visitors a year.

The move is part of the bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 and the team behind it argues the shift would return the Stone to its proper home.

Historically kept at Scone Abbey, it was held at Westminster Abbey until 1996, when it was released to Edinburgh.

Charles Kinnoull, chair of Culture Perth and Kinross, the team behind the bid, said: “The Stone of Scone represents an integral part of Perth’s history. As Scotland’s first city and its original capital, Scottish kings were crowned here on the coronation stone.

“Now we are planning a cultural programme that celebrates our ancient roots as well as looking beyond the traditional view of Perth, and being able to display the Stone would certainly emphasise the city’s place at the heart of Scotland’s story.”

Then-council leader Ian Miller called for the artefact’s return “to its ancient Perthshire home” last summer. Kinnoull says a transfer would be part of a broader programme to “transform” the city through culture.

A “significant” renovation is already planned for the museum and art gallery, with Perth Theatre also set to reopen after an extensive revamp. Plans for work on City Hall, set to become a new cultural attraction, will go on public display next month.

It is thought that the Stone could be housed here, becoming free to view.

Kinnoull said: “Whether or not we are successful in our request to house the Stone of Destiny, the Perth2021 team has a clear and compelling vision. We will make culture accessible to everyone and use it to transform our city and the wider region it supports.

“Displaying the Stone would enable us to welcome even more people and to show one of Scotland’s great heritage objects proudly to the world in its native city and be once again part of our region’s continuing story.”

Perth Racecourse has renamed one of its flagship August races in honour of the Stone to celebrate the Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology and to promote the city’s bid. The winner will receive a trophy featuring a miniature replica of the historic item made from the same seam of red sandstone as the original.

However, a decision on where the Stone should sit is unlikely to end speculation regarding its authenticity. Said to have been used as a pillow by Israelite patriarch Jacob, it is rumoured that the monks who safeguarded the Stone replaced it with a fake when English troops arrived to claim it for Edward I.

Further copies are said to have been made when students Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson, and Alan Stuart removed it from Westminster Abbey in 1950, surrendering it four months later.