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Free Perth heritage event set to shine new light on Scone’s royal past

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Illustration of Royal Scone
A draft artistic reconstruction of the royal centre at Scone in AD 1371 showing mass gatherings for the celebrations of Robert II inauguration at the Moothill and Scone Abbey by artist James Lindsay (Copyright James Lindsay).

An exciting new project is set to help the general public learn about the importance of Scone, one of Scotland’s ancient royal centres.

A team of researchers, led by the University of Stirling and working in co-operation with Scone Palace, is hosting a free public event in Perth on Sunday 30 March - to reveal what Scone was like in medieval times and develop awareness of Scone’s cultural, historic and symbolic significance.

For six centuries, Scone was the symbolic epicentre of the Scottish state.  It was where Scotland’s kings were inaugurated and the political community gathered to legislate and to advise their monarch. 

Professor Richard Oram, project leader and Professor of Environmental and Medieval History at the University of Stirling said: “Despite Scone’s importance in Scottish identity and Scotland’s history, there is currently limited understanding of the site, the function of its components, and the nature of the activities undertaken there.

“Our new project, entitled ‘Royal Scone: parliament, inauguration and national symbol’, will assemble a network of researchers in archaeology, architectural history, legal and political history – including representatives from Historic Scotland – to develop a wider and more accurate picture of what royal Scone was like.

“Our public event will also gather together heritage-management professionals, artists, writers and designers to help tell the story of Scone in a variety of exciting ways.”

Members of the public are invited to drop in to the event to participate in a range of interactive talks and demonstrations. Highlights include a session by Dr Oliver O’Grady, from the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Open Studies - on new findings from the archaeological investigations at Scone; a demonstration by Dr Alan Miller from the University of St Andrews - to show how 3D digital technology can be used to recreate ancient sites like Scone; and an exhibition by artist James Lindsay, whose illustrated reconstructions of Scone Abbey and Moothill reveal what life was like in the medieval period.  

The project researchers – who are currently exploring the case for making a UNESCO World Heritage site application for Scone – hope the event in Perth will also raise awareness about the importance of the future safeguarding and development of all European royal medieval heritage sites.

Dr Oliver O’Grady, from the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Open Studies and heritage consultancy OJT Heritage, said: “This project is a great opportunity to cut through all the myths surrounding Scone and create a new informed account of Scone’s place in our national story and international heritage sites.”

He added: “We really want the community to get involved, to tell us their stories and memories about Scone and work with our expert interpretation team to articulate Scone’s heritage for future generations.”

The public talks and digital demonstrations will take place at the A K Bell Library’s Soutar Theatre and Sandeman meeting room between 10.00am and 4.00pm on Sunday 30 March.            


Background information:


The programme for the day is:

10:00am: Archaeology at Old Scone by Dr Oliver O’Grady, OJT Heritage

11:15am: 3D Digital Technology in Heritage by Alan Miller, University of St Andrews

1:30 to 4:00pm: Exhibition of Jim Lindsay’s reconstruction artwork and digital 3D model


  • The event is the first of series of public activities and academic panels to be held throughout 2014, which will culminate in an international conference held in December.  The findings of the conference will be published in a new authoritative account of Scone’s history as a primary royal centre and its relation to wider European sites of governance.
  • Of all royal centres in medieval Scotland, no place occupied a greater symbolic position than Scone, the ceremonial core of Scottish monarchy between the early 10th and late 15th centuries AD. Recent archaeological findings at Scone provide an opportunity to reconsider the site critically in relation to new research at other principal ceremonial royal centres across northern Europe, such as Niðarós/Trondheim in Norway, Gamla Uppsala in Sweden, Prague Castle in the Czech Republic or Aachen in Germany.
  • Excavation and survey at Scone began in 2007 under the direction of Dr O’Grady and developed out of doctoral research into the archaeology of medieval legal assembly sites in Scotland. Oliver undertook an extensive programme of geophysics and excavation that has revealed most of surviving ground-plan of the medieval abbey church and also the original form of the Moot Hill royal assembly mound and its enclosures.
  • The Royal Scone Network was developed as collaboration between Professor Richard Oram (Principle Investigator) of School of Arts and Humanities at University of Stirling and Dr Oliver J O’Grady heritage consultant at OJT Heritage and researcher (Collaborator and Project Administrator).



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