Border closure evokes memoriesofstonetheft
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.