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One of the most famous episodes in recent Scottish history to be told to visitors to Arbroath Abbey

23 April 2014

One of the most famous episodes in recent Scottish history is to be told to visitors to Arbroath Abbey.

On Christmas Day 1950, four Scottish students removed the Stone of Destiny from beneath the Coronation Throne in Westminster Abbey, sparking a nationwide police hunt.  Four months later it was deposited on the site of the high altar at Arbroath Abbey.  

The stone was returned to Westminster Abbey and now resides in Edinburgh Castle however the story of its unexpected visit to Arbroath has gone down in Scottish history.

A new display has been unveiled at the abbey which will tell this fascinating story to visitors.

As part of the display, Ian Hamilton, a former advocate and one of the students involved in the removal of the stone, has recorded an interview which gives a first-hand account of the event.

In it, he expresses the group’s reasons for choosing Arbroath and the events leading up to that day.

An audio visual including extracts of the interview with Ian Hamilton appears alongside a life size replica of the Stone of Destiny, which has been put on display for the first time within the abbey.

Visitors will also be able to view 1950’s photographs taken shortly after the stone was deposited.

Lorna Ewan, Head of Visitor Experience, Content and Learning for Historic Scotland said;

“Arbroath Abbey has a long and fascinating history.

“This new display will explore one of the most recent – and perhaps one of the most famous events in its long history, including a first-hand account from Ian Hamilton, who was present when the stone was deposited at the abbey.

“We hope that it provides a great addition to our visitor experience at the abbey.”

The  replica Stone of Destiny display is now on site at Arbroath Abbey and is included within admission to the site.

Notes for editors:

  • Arbroath Abbey is an ambitious royal monastic house, founded by William I ‘the Lion’ in 1178, one of Scotland’s most revered medieval monarchs, for the Tironensian monastic order and as his own burial place. Built by a patron for whom cost was of little concern, it is one of the most important buildings of the 12th and 13th centuries and a product of a period of high artistic creativity

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information

Iona Matheson
Historic Scotland Media Office
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858