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The Out About Scotland complete guide to Scone Palace
Category: Castle, Forest or woodland, Historic building, Historic site
Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 9 out of 10
About Scone Palace
Scone Palace is widely recognised as one of the top tourist attractions in central Scotland, not only because It’s a genuinely interesting place to visit but also because it’s absolutely steeped in history.
Known as the ‘crowning place of kings’, the palace is popular both for its historical links (it was the original home of the Stone of Scone) and its grounds which extend across 100 acres of immaculately manicured lawns and fir tree woodland.
Scone Palace is located near Perth at the edge of Perthshire’s Big Tree Country which means it’s a perfect compliment to a walk through one of the ancient woodlands that are so prevalent in this part of the country (Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park is just a 10-minute drive away).
But to be honest the grounds at Scone are so nice you probably won’t feel the need to leave the site to experience Perthshire’s famed woodlands.
The nearby city of Perth is a bit of a hidden gem that’s criminally underrated by tourists and yet it offers loads of activities in the city centre (go for a walk along the River Tay to see what I mean) as well as heaps of things to do in the immediate area – with Scone Palace topping the list.
This red sandstone palace is arguably one of the most important historical sites in Scotland because it’s right here where 38 kings of Scotland were crowned by being seated on the Stone of Scone – otherwise known as the Stone of Destiny.
The stone is an ancient block of red sandstone that was used for many centuries in Scottish coronations until it was taken to England in 1296. However, it was returned to Scotland in 1996 where it now sits along with the Scottish Regalia at Edinburgh Castle.
Famous kings including Robert the Bruce were crowned on the stone, and although it’s not there anymore you can at least sit on a replica that’s located outside the chapel if you fancy snapping a regal Instagram selfie or two.
Scone Palace is a great attraction that blends fascinating history, beautiful buildings and picturesque walks into a single destination, and I think it totally deserves its title as being one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland.
Things to do at Scone Palace
As well as the grounds and the stone, there’s the beautiful palace to explore which is packed to the rafters with furniture, paintings, and family heirlooms of the Earls of Mansfield (the 8th Earl is the current owner) and you can explore these collections either on your own or as part of a guided tour.
The tours allocate a single guide to your group for the duration of your visit the palace but to be honest it’s much cheaper – and in my opinion more relaxing – to just wander around the building on your own. However, if you want an expert to tell you the history of the palace then a tour might be worth considering.
The palace itself is beautifully maintained and has a vast labyrinth of rooms and corridors that you can explore, each with collections of ancient Scottish artefacts and priceless artworks.
When walking through the corridors you really feel like you’re taking a step back in time so you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of knowledgeable guides standing around who’ll be only too happy to give you a rundown of the palace’s history.
After a busy hour or two wandering through the rooms and corridors you can relax in the cafe which has additional seating in the gardens, but be aware that you’ll probably have a tame peacock rummaging around your feet for scraps of food so if you want to keep your packed lunch for yourself you can buy some bird feed in the on-site shop to distract them.
The gardens are beautifully manicured and there’s a lot of woodland to explore as well as an enormous maze and stretches of gorgeous flower beds. In fact, the gardens are so big you could easily spend most of the day just walking around them, and on a sunny day it’s worth the entrance fee even if you don’t have time to go inside the palace itself.
Another reason to visit Scone Palace is to experience the events that are held regularly both in the palace and in the grounds and you can pretty much be assured that you’ll find something going on no matter what time of year you visit.
The event organisers seem to go to great lengths to offer something for everyone and you’ll find everything from falconry displays to pottery exhibitions to live music and craft workshops. The events are always enjoyable and it’s worth checking their official events page frequently to find out what they’ve got coming up next.
The history of Scone Palace
There are no records of Scone before 906AD although many historians believe the original site could date back to pre-Roman times. However, it is known that during the time of the early medieval period Scone was at the heart of the Pictish kingdom.
The palace was probably built at this location due to the abbey that had been founded on the site, though nothing remains of it today. Although the abbey flourished for over four hundred years it was destroyed during the Reformation by an angry mob from Dundee in 1559.
Scone was used as the home of the Scottish Parliament for several hundred years and the palace was also home to a succession of Scottish kings which is why it’s so revered in Scottish history today.
It’s full of interesting stories too, like Moot Hill, the man-made mound that saw centuries of coronations while the Stone of Destiny was still at the site.
The story goes that noblemen from all over Scotland would travel to Scone with soil from their homeland carried in the bottom of their boots. Once at the mound the soil would be deposited and the hill would get bigger and bigger until Moot Hill (perhaps it was originally called Boot Hill?) was eventually created.
In this way the inaugurated king could say that he’d been crowned by standing symbolically on all Scottish lands. These coronations continued until the last coronation in Scotland took place in 1651 when King Charles II was crowned King of Scots.
From around that time and up until the present day the palace has been held under the stewardship of the Murray family.
The roots of the Murray dynasty at Scone stretches back to 1776 when William Murray was declared the 1st Earl of Mansfield, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th-century that the 3rd Earl of Mansfield began the works to upgrade the palace into the beautiful building that we see today.
What I liked about this attraction
- The palace is beautiful
- And so are the grounds
- There’s loads of history to learn at this attraction
My top tips
- The restaurant is ok but in summer it’s much nicer to take a picnic and sit in the grounds
- Scone Palace always seems to be holding an event of some kind so check their website regularly as there’s bound to be something that’ll interest you
- The season ticket is by far the best value if you think you’ll make a return visit as it gives you unlimited entry from March to October
Address and directions map
From Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow, follow the signs for the ‘A93 Braemar’. Scone Palace is situated two miles north of Perth on the A93.
Prices and opening times
- Adult Palace and Grounds £12.50
- Senior/Student Palace and Grounds £11.00
- Child Palace and Grounds £8.75
- Family Palace and Grounds £42.00
- Palace and Grounds – open from 1st April to 31st October. Throughout April and October opening times are 10.00am – 4.00pm and during May – September the gates open at 9.30am with last admission 5.00pm. Grounds close at 5.45pm.
- Winter Hours – Free admission to the Grounds, Coffee Shop, Food Shop, Children’s Playground and Maze each Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout November & December, February & March. Opening times are 10.00am closing at 4.00pm.
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access
On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Picnic area, Restaurant or cafe, Snacks, Toilets