Roman numerals discovered on 800-year-old Stone of Destiny

New markings revealed on the legendary symbol of the Scottish monarchy is it is prepared for the Coronation of King Charles III
Nergis Firtina
The Stone of Destiny.
The Stone of Destiny.

Historic Environment Scotland  

In preparation for the Coronation of King Charles III next month, modern scientific research and cutting-edge digital technology have uncovered more of the history of the Stone of Destiny.

Also known as the Stone of Scone, this enigmatic symbol of Scotland's old monarchy has long captivated the Scottish imagination.

Work has been carried out by Engine Shed as they were tasked with preparing the Stone for King Charles III's coronation at Westminster Abbey in May, where it will be displayed in the Coronation Chair.

3D model

The Stone may now be seen from many angles and in greater detail than ever before thanks to the creation of a new digital 3D model. This has revealed markings on the Stone's surface that were previously unrecorded and appear to be Roman numerals, as per the statement from Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

The Stone's geological features, such as cross-bedding, which indicates the geological conditions under which the sandstone was formed and is typical of sandstone from the Scone Sandstone Formation, are now more visible thanks to digital imaging. Additionally, more information about the 1951 restoration can now be viewed, along with the numerous tooling marks that are obvious from the stone's initial working as well as some wear and tear.

“It’s very exciting to discover new information about an object as unique and important to Scotland’s history as the Stone of Destiny," said Ewan Hyslop, Head of Research and Climate Change at HES.

“The discovery of previously unrecorded markings is also significant, and while at this point we’re unable to say for certain what their purpose or meaning might be, they offer the exciting opportunity for further areas of study," he added.

Forensic techniques

New scientific investigation has also found more details about the Stone by utilizing a wider variety of forensic techniques than were previously known.

This has improved the findings of the earlier investigation, which took place in 1998 and involved the British Geological Survey's careful inspection of Stone pieces.

This research determined that the Stone was identical to sandstones from the Scone Sandstone Formation, which are found nearby in the vicinity of Scone Palace.

Gypsum plaster microscopic remnants, probably from a cast that was made in the past, were also discovered filling sandstone pores in numerous locations surrounding the Stone.

“The scientific analysis we’ve been able to undertake using cutting-edge techniques that weren’t previously available to us have offered some intriguing new clues to the history of the Stone," added Hyslop.

“We may not have all the answers at this stage, but what we’ve been able to uncover is testament to a variety of uses in the Stone’s long history and contributes to its provenance and authenticity.