Places to Visit in Scotland
- Scone Palace, Perthshire

Scone Palace Having visited a large number of castles, palaces and country houses, Scone Palace is easily one of my favourites. From the outside, it is not all that impressive to look at (the castellations were added in a 19th century "makeover" to make it look more like a castle) but inside the richly appointed rooms are ajoy to view. And the extensive grounds with flower gardens, an arboretum of magnificent trees and a maze, are a delight. And on top of all that, there is Moot Hill where the kings of Scotland were crowned from Pictish times to the 17th century.

Scone Abbey Seal It was Kenneth mac Alpin who moved his centre of power to Scone (pronounced Scoon) and Dunkeld in the 9th century as his western province of Dalriada (Argyll) came under increasing pressure from the Vikings. The Stone of Destiny, on which generations of kings had been enthroned, was also moved to Scone. An Augustinian Abbey was built by Alexander I in the 12th century (the illustration here is the seal of the Abbey). The Abbey was destroyed during the Reformation in the 16th century.

Coat of Arms In 1498, the first Lord Mansfield, (a descendant of Freskin de Moravia, a Flemish noble who came to Scotland and founded the Murray family), branched off from the Earls of Atholl (later the Dukes of Atholl). The Mansfields later became Lord Stormont. The Third Lord Stormont held the last coronation to be held in Scotland when Charles II was crowned at Moot Hill at Scone. A later member of the family, a brilliant lawyer, was Lord Chief Justice of England and Chancellor of the Exchequer (all at the same time!) and was created Earl of Mansfield. The present Lord Mansfield is also the 13th Viscount Stormont and Lord Scone, 11th Lord Balvaird and Hereditary Keeper of Robert the Bruce's castle of Lochmaben in Dumfries.

Dining Room Parts of a 17th century house which was built on the site of the Abbey were incorporated into Scone Palace when it was built in 1802 by the 3rd Earl Mansfield. Visitors to the Palace can tour many of the apartments in the Palace, including the magnificent dining room (with a collection of lovely ivories round the walls and Chippendale design chairs, made locally in Perth), the drawing room (with a portrait of King George III by Allan Ramsay) and the Inner Hall which is full of items which have been collected by the family over the years. Also on display are detailed reproductions of the Honours of Scotland - the crown, sceptre and sword of state.

Scone Mercat Cross In the grounds of Scone Palace there is a copy of the Stone of Destiny (yes, it's definitely a copy) and a chapel on Moot Hill, the place where the coronations of so many Scottish kings took place. The medieval village of Scone was razed to the ground to create the gardens and pinetum (which includes a Douglas fir planted from a seed sent by David Douglas the botanist). However, the original Mercat Cross (pictured here) still stands on the site of the village. And strutting around the grounds - and making themselves heard with their strident calls - are a large number of peacocks. Peacock

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