DIGITAL technologies and scientific analysis have revealed more of the story of the Stone of Destiny, the ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – who care for the Stone of Destiny – have been preparing the stone for King Charles's coronation at Westminster Abbey in May, where it will be placed in the coronation chair for the ceremony.

A new digital 3D model of the stone has been created, allowing it to be viewed from different perspectives and in higher detail than ever before.

The National:

This has revealed previously unrecorded markings on the stone’s surface, which have the appearance of Roman numerals.

The digital imaging has also improved visibility of the geological features of the stone, such as cross-bedding, which is characteristic of sandstone of the Scone Formation.

The many tooling marks evident from original working of the stone and areas of wear and tear can now also be seen more clearly, as well as further details of the 1951 repair.

In 1296 the then king of England, Edward I, had it removed from Scotland and it was built into a new throne at Westminster Abbey in London.

But in 1950, four Scottish students famously took back the stone from Westminster Abbey in London. It was found some three months later, 500 miles away, at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey.

It was only returned to Scotland on St Andrew’s Day in November 1996.

The National:

HES's Ewan Hyslop said it is extremely exciting to discover this new information given the stone’s importance to Scotland’s history. He added: “The high level of detail we’ve been able to capture through the digital imaging has enabled us to re-examine the tooling marks on the surface of the stone.

“This has helped confirm that the stone has been roughly worked by more than one stonemason with a number of different tools, as was previously thought.

“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.”

Harnessing a wider range of forensic techniques than available in the past, new scientific analysis has also uncovered additional information about the stone. This has enhanced the results of the previous investigation in 1998, when fragments from the stone underwent detailed examination by the British Geological Survey.

This work identified the stone as being indistinguishable from sandstones of the Scone Formation, which outcrop in the area around Scone Palace, near Perth.

Hyslop says that these new findings go a long way in proving the stone’s origins, which have long been a matter of doubt.

He added: “What we're able to say is that there's really no reason not to think that the stone of destiny that's in Edinburgh castle and will be used in the coronation is the very stone that was removed to Westminster Abbey over 700 years ago.

“The new examination has provided further evidence for the stone’s origins, while also unearthing more of its post-quarrying history. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis was undertaken to determine the elemental composition of the stone, leading to the discovery of traces of copper alloy on the top surface of the stone that coincide with a dark stain near its centre.

"This suggests a bronze or brass object has been in contact with or placed on the stone at some time in its history.

"Microscopic traces of gypsum plaster were also found to be present, infilling pores in the sandstone at various places around the stone, possibly traces of a plaster cast that was taken some time in the past."

A number of different teams within HES are involved in preparing the stone for its move to Westminster Abbey for the coronation, working with Westminster Abbey.