Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/40

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THE VOICE OF THE STONE OF DESTINY : An Enquiry into the Choice of Kings by Augury.


{Read at the Meeting of 12th November, 1902.)

The famous Coronation Stone has an authentic history of six hundred years. At the time of the conquest of Scot- land by Edward I., it was the stone on which the kings of the Scots were, according to immemorial custom, installed. Regarded by the Scots as sacred, it was therefore removed by Edward's order from Scone, where it stood, to West- minster, and was inclosed in what is now, and has been ever since, the Coronation Chair. Its earlier history, as distinguished from conjecture and legend, goes no farther back than the middle of the thirteenth century, or something less than half a century before its removal to Westminster, when it is recorded by Fordun that Alexander III. was solemnly placed upon it and hallowed to king by the Bishop of St. Andrews (1249). But what is wanting in authentic history has been abundantly made up in legend. The tale, of which there are two versions, is the creation of a literary age. The Irish version brings it, with the Tuatha De Danann, from Lochlann, or Scandinavia, to Ireland. The Scottish version traces it on the other hand from Egypt, whence it was carried by the Milesians. This was improved upon, to the extent of identifying the stone with that used by Jacob as a pillow on his journey from Beersheba to Haran. The attempt was thus made, by connecting the ruline race in Scotland with the lesrends of the Hebrew patriarchs, to confer upon the stone the united sanctity of religion, of antiquity, and of patriotism.

In the course of its wanderings the stone is said to have reached Tara : and it is declared to be the famous /,/<? Fni/,