This red sandstone palace is located in the village of Scone just outside Perth, and it’s one of the most important historic buildings in Scotland. The palace is known as the original crowning site for the ancient kings of Scotland and visitors can explore both the palace and the extensive grounds on self-guided tours.
Review of 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 complement 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 under-visited 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 historic 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 alongside 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 of being one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland.
Find more attractions with my Central Scotland articles.
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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, but 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 café 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 the 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 the 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 the lands in Scotland. 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.
- The palace is impressive, and so are the grounds. In fact, the grounds are probably the highlight of a visit. Don’t forget to take a look at the chapel while you’re wandering about.
- The café and shop are superb. I particularly like the fact you can buy birdseed to feed the peacocks while you’re having your lunch in the outside seating area.
- There’s loads of history to discover at this attraction so thankfully the guides are very helpful. They’re not overbearing and breathing down your neck like a lot of other private historic houses either.
- If you’re a visitor to this part of Scotland and you’re looking for accommodation, I highly recommend checking out the Crieff Hydro hotel which is located 19 miles away on the A85. This resort features restaurants, swimming pools and health treatments and the rooms are spotless (I can vouch for that having stayed there myself several times in the last couple of years).
- 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.
From Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow, follow the signs for the ‘A93 Braemar’. Scone Palace is situated two miles north of Perth on the A93.
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Things to do near Scone Palace
- Stanley Mills. Stanley, Perth PH1 4QE. 24-minute drive. 200-year-old preserved textile mill that features interactive displays that tell the stories of the mill workers and how the mill was powered by the River Tay. Visitors can also explore Stanley village which was purpose-built to house the mill workers.
- Huntingtower Castle. Perth PH1 3JL. 16-minute drive. A grand tower house built in the 1400s for the Ruthven family. Managed by Historic Environment Scotland. Self-guided tours are possible inside the castle. There are picnic benches in the grounds.
- Perth Museum and Art gallery. 78 George St, Perth PH1 5LB. 8-minute drive. A small but excellent museum that showcases a wide array of exhibits and artefacts that explains the history of Perth and the surrounding area. Entry is free.
- Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park. Corsie Hill Rd, Perth PH2 7BZ. 9-minute drive. A large hillside park near Perth that offers woodland walks through a managed arboretum and up the 222-metre Kinnoull Hill. There are a number of wildlife sculptures throughout the park.
- The Black Watch Castle and Museum. Perth PH1 5HR. 9-minute drive. 5-star museum dedicated to Scotland’s most famous regiment, the Black Watch. The museum is situated inside the 17th-century Balhousie Castle and it has self-guided and guided tours.
More places to visit in Central Scotland
- Loch Leven – Kinross: Complete Visitor GuideLoch Leven is a large expanse of water situated in the rural Scottish county of Perth and Kinross. The National Nature Reserve is renowned for the number of wildfowl that live there and in fact, it’s home to more breeding ducks than anywhere else in Europe.
- Culross – Fife: Complete Visitor GuideThe historic village of Culross is situated on the banks of the Firth of Forth where it overlooks the petrochemical works of Grangemouth to the south and the Longannet power station to the west.
- Ben Lawers – Perth & Kinross: Complete Visitor GuideScotland’s 10th-highest Munro is one of Central Scotland’s most popular tourist hotspots, famed not only for the fantastic walks to the massif summit but also for the wonderful views visitors get to enjoy along the way.
- Schiehallion Mountain – Perthshire: Complete Visitor GuideSchiehallion mountain lies between Loch’s Tay, Rannoch, and Tummel roughly 10 miles north-west of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and it’s renowned amongst Scotland’s hillwalkers as being one of the easiest Munro’s to ‘bag’ in the country.