One of Scotland's most important 'lost' historic sites
- the ancient abbey in which Robert the Bruce is believed to have been
crowned on the Stone of Destiny in 1306 - was rediscovered in 2007.
Archaeologists using sophisticated magnetic imaging
technology managed to trace the exact location of Scone Abbey during
the first such investigations ever to take place there. The abbey
was the ancient seat of ecclesiastical and royal power in which
Scottish kings were inaugurated for four centuries.
No part of the abbey now stands above ground.
The major archaeological investigation in the grounds
of Scone Palace was being led by Oliver O'Grady, of the Department of
Archaeology at Glasgow University, and Peter Yeoman, a prominent expert
on medieval Scotland. O'Grady admitted that the discovery of the
outline of the 'lost' abbey had exceeded all the expectations of his
This was the first time that any trace of the great
main abbey church of Scone had been discovered. It was the location
of many inaugurations of Scottish kings and is believed to have been
where the Stone of Destiny was housed in the main altar at the
eastern end of the abbey. It is certainly thought to be the location
in which Robert the Bruce was inaugurated.
Scone in ancient times was an important centre of royal
and ecclesiastical power. Even before the Scots controlled the country
after the mid-ninth century, Pictish kings had been inaugurated on the
Moot Hill. The abbey was founded in 1114 by Alexander I and was standing
by 1120 - a royal abbey which befitted this great ceremonial centre of
the kingdom, one which housed the Stone of Destiny. It was sacked and
burned by an angry mob in 1559 at the height of the Reformation.
The importance of Scone - where kings were made and
parliaments met - was matched only by how little was known about the
An emerging picture
The dramatic first images were captured on the team's
computer screens. They believed that the abbey complex could be up to
a hundred metres in length - far larger than had previously been
The Moot Hill was also giving up its secrets, with
the clear indication of a massive ditch which originally encircled it,
and evidence of how the hill was artificially created.
Mr O'Grady and his team of archaeologists were in
'positive' discussions with the palace - home of the earl and countess
of Mansfield - about continuing their work and expanding the geophysics
survey. There were, he said, 'multiple possibilities' which included
Suzanne Urquhart, the chief executive of Mansfield
Estates at Scone Palace, commented on the discovery: 'To see the plan
of what was a beautiful Gothic church emerge after being lost for four
hundred years is very exciting. We are talking to the archaeologists
about how the project might develop'.
It was hoped that the find could eventually pave
the way for excavations to begin to reveal the remains.