Perthshire Advertiser

Border closure evokes memoriesof­stonetheft

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It was striking to note the restrictio­ns between Scotland and England over the festive season, and to highlight that it was almost 70 years ago to the day that the border between the two nations was closed for the first time in 400 years.

That, of course, was due to the return of the Stone of Destiny to Scotland, when four student nationalis­ts removed the ancient artefact from Westminste­r Abbey on Christmas Day in 1950.

The incident happened nearly seven centuries after the stone was taken from Scone by King Edward I during the Scottish Wars of Independen­ce and placed under the monarch’s chair in the abbey.

When news of the stone’s removal broke, the authoritie­s closed the border between Scotland and England.

It was ultimately recovered from

Arbroath Abbey, where Scottish nationhood had been asserted with the Declaratio­n of Arbroath in 1320, 700 years ago this year. It was returned to Westminste­r Abbey in 1952.

This action also coincided with attacks on postboxes in Scotland in a dispute over the title of the new British monarch, Elizabeth II, there being no Elizabeth I of Scotland.

Interestin­gly, it has recently been revealed that James Stuart, Conservati­ve secretary of state for Scotland, recommende­d in 1953 that the stone be returned to Scotland, but Churchill’s government vetoed this, seeing it as rewarding a small minority of hardline nationalis­ts.

Alex Orr

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