SCIENTIFIC analysis has said it is almost certain the part of the Stone of Destiny held at SNP headquarters is the real deal, the Scottish Government has announced.

Former first minister Alex Salmond was given the fragment in 2008 and it was feared lost until it was found in a cupboard in the party’s base in Edinburgh.

Experts at Historic Environment Scotland, working on behalf of the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia, have now said there is a “high degree of certainty that it was taken from the Stone”.

In a statement, the Scottish Government said: “This analysis, together with the family connection of the person who gifted the fragment in 2008, indicates that it is beyond any reasonable doubt that the fragment is genuine.

READ MORE: Stone of Destiny set to be reunited with fragment held by the SNP

“As agreed when the fragment was submitted for analysis, now that its authenticity has been established, the fragment will be retained by the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia to be held on behalf of the Nation and the people of Scotland.

“The commissioners will now consider appropriate options for the future location of the fragment, including the option of it being placed in the new Perth Museum.”

The SNP handed the fragment to the commissioners earlier this year, requesting that  it be reunited with the full stone at Perth Museum.

An SNP spokesperson said: "Given its impeccable provenance, the SNP never doubted that the small stone chip gifted to the party was a genuine piece of the Stone of Scone.

"The SNP has made clear its desire to see our chip – an artefact in its own right – displayed in Perth Museum alongside the historic and iconic Stone for the benefit of the people of Scotland.”

But the Scottish Tories said the SNP had questions to answer over why they had "treated a piece of Scottish history as if it was their personal property". 

MSP Murdo Fraser added: "Now that it’s been authenticated, this fragment should on public view, after years of it being stashed away in a cupboard in an SNP office.

"I’m sure that people will want to see it alongside the Stone in Perth, in the splendid new museum which was funded thanks to the UK Government."

The new museum is home to hundreds of artefacts ranging from ancient monoliths to weaponry to animal skulls, with the centrepiece being the Stone of Scone.

Tickets to see the ancient stone on its opening weekend sold out in just 13 minutes.