THE Stone of Destiny is set to be the main attraction as Perth Museum prepares to open to the public this weekend – with tickets to see it selling out in around 13 minutes.

Located right in the heart of the city, the museum is home to hundreds of artefacts ranging from ancient monoliths to weaponry to animal skulls.

After departing from Edinburgh castle earlier this month, the Stone of Destiny is now ready for the public to view.

An ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy, the stone (below) was historically used in the inauguration of Scottish kings for centuries before being removed from the country by Edward I in 1296.

The National: Image: Rob McDougall

Four Scottish students took back the stone on Christmas Day in 1950 though it was not until 1996 that it was officially returned to Scotland. Last year, it was used in the coronation of King Charles III in London.

Speaking to The National, chief executive for Culture Perth and Kinross Helen Smout spoke proudly of the “most incredible collection” of around 500,000 objects.

“The Stone of Destiny at the heart of that is the icing on the cake but it sits alongside a really rich heritage of around 10,000 years of history,” she said.

READ MORE: VisitScotland to close every information centre across Scotland

Smout added that the museum is something “everybody can be proud of” and pointed out how valuable it is as a visitor attraction alongside the city’s art gallery, concert hall, and Black Watch Museum.

“It’s something which will attract lots of tourists and visitors, they won’t just be in the museum but in the city with all the fantastic independent shops and attractions.

“There’s so much to do here in Perth and if we can raise the profile of the city as a whole then that’s to the wider benefit.”

She recalled the moment the stone first arrived at the museum fondly, saying it was a “special moment”.

The National: The stone will be housed in Perth Museum - Image: Greg Holmes 

“The weight of that history just landed and you just got it. It was incredibly moving.

"The way we’ve presented the story, a lot of people who have tested that for us say they understand its significance, why it’s still a living object and why it’s used in a certain way.

“Quite often there’s a little tear in the eye which is really lovely.”

The museum is free to access although the immersive Stone of Destiny viewing experience at its centre does need to be pre-booked.

Perth and Kinross council leader Grant Laing said that tickets to see the stone on opening weekend sold out “in minutes”.

A member of staff meanwhile confirmed to The National tickets sold out in around 13 minutes. 

The first part of the experience, which lasts around 10 minutes or so, takes people through the history of the stone before into a viewing room to see the artefact itself.

On the museum, Laing said: “The new museum has already created nearly 30 jobs and is expected to bring an additional 140-160,000 visitors to Perth by the end of the third year.

READ MORE: End of BBC 'undoubtedly on its way', Doctor Who showrunner says

“There is huge excitement for the museum’s opening on Saturday. Tickets to see the Stone of Destiny were snapped up within minutes of being released last week.

“This important piece of Scottish history is free to view and its story has been brought to life using modern technology.”

The museum is to be housed within Perth City Hall and Laing said it’s fitting that a building that used to be so crucial to civic life will take on that role once again.

As well as the Stone of Destiny, there is also an exhibition on the unicorn – Scotland’s national animal.

The National:

A new exhibition on the Unicorn is starting on March 30.

The museum says it is the first exhibition to explore the mythical beast from its ancient origins to its relevance in popular culture today.

It’s set to feature spectacular objects from around the world, including manuscripts, illustrations, paintings, coins, sculptures and tapestries.

It will begin on March 30 and run until September 22 with tickets available online HERE – under 10s will be able to attend for free.