Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Tale (and a Scottish one) - stealing the Stone of Scone

Alleged to once have been Jacob's pillow, where the Biblical figure laid his head while he dreamt of a ladder to Heaven, it became the symbol of Scottish pride and independence, upon which the nation's kings were crowned. Then, in 1299, King Edward I, known as Longshanks, infuriated by the rebellious Scots, stormed Scone Abbey and stole it. -

NVDL: Charming story.
clipped from
Ian Hamilton, who led the heist on the Stone of Destiny

Almost 60 years ago, on Christmas Day 1950, Hamilton, then a brash and idealistic young student studying law at Glasgow University, became notorious in England and achieved nigh-on hero status in his native Scotland when he and a trio of friends staged one of the most audacious heists imaginable. In a caper worthy of an Ealing comedy, they motored from Glasgow to London (in those days no mean feat), broke into the Abbey, and stole the symbol of Scottish pride, the Stone of Scone – with one of the ''thieves'' breaking two toes when it fell on them.

The borders were closed, a posse of police vans gave chase, and a national outcry ensued. Whereupon our intrepid quartet calmly held the Stone hostage, deftly tap-danced their way through police interviews and triumphantly ended the escapade by evading arrest. The Scots were ecstatic. The English, by contrast, were bewildered. Was it, they asked themselves, a student jape or an insult to the majesty of the British state?

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