On the 25th March 1306 – the Feast of the Annunciation – Robert Bruce was enthroned as King of Scots at Scone Abbey in a ceremony shorn of traditional regalia, principally the Stone of Destiny, which had been seized in 1296 by Edward I and taken to Westminster Abbey. Surrounded by his supporters, and in the presence of four bishops and three earls, a circlet of gold – made specially for the occasion – was placed on his head by the Countess of Buchan, daughter of the Earl of Fife.
Regalia introduced sequentially for the coronations of later Scottish monarchs form one of the oldest and most historic collections of crown jewels in Europe, and which became known as The Honours of Scotland. The crown, which incorporates the gold circlet made for King Robert in 1306, was refashioned for James V in 1512 and was last used to crown a monarch at the coronation of Charles II in 1651. The sceptre formed in solid silver was originally a gift of Pope Innocent VIII in 1494 but was later remodelled. The Sword of State was presented to James IV in 1507.
Following the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament in 1707, the Honours were put away for safekeeping and subsequently lost. Over a century later they were discovered on 4th February 1818 in a walled-up strongroom deep inside in Edinburgh Castle. Sir Walter Scott led the search party, later describing the momentous event in a letter to a friend: “The discovery of the Regalia has interested people’s minds much more strongly than I expected, and is certainly calculated to make a pleasant and favourable impression upon then in respect to the kingly part of the constitution…”
Once again the Honours of Scotland will form a central part of a Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication for HM King Charles III at St. Giles Cathedral on 5th July 2023.
Read ‘The Bruce Family and coronations through the ages’ Part Two here and Part Three here.