Mote Church (Stormont Mausoleum)

“Boothill” is thought to be a corruption of ‘Moothill’. The Gaelic name is ‘Tom-a-mhoid’. The hill is also said to have been called, ‘Collis Credulitatis’ – ‘the Hill of Belief’ – and ‘Omnis Terra’ – ‘Everyman’s Land,’ – and to have been been connected with the coronation ceremonies which took place at Scone. The first mention of the hill is in the reign of Kenneth II who is said to have celebrated MacAlpin Laws about 850 . The hill is said to have been topped by a flat area measuring 100 yards by 60 yards. A large flat topped oval mound average height 2.0 m. It is now covered with trees and bushes and a mausoleum stands in its centre. Visited by OS (WDJ) 16 October 1963. Well, I happen to live ten minutes from Moot in Perth and as so many people know, I am a history geek (history lover, cannee get enough, especially the Scottish variety) so this is my take/research on the hill. On so many occasions when visiting, I have been told by reliable sources; it is where Kings were crowned and sub kings brought their own soil to stand on – creating over many years a hill. True or false? Let’s crack on … The origin of the Boot (or Moot) Hill at Scone is unclear but it may be no more than a scarped natural mound; it is now surmounted by the Mote Church and Stormont Mausoleum (NO12NW 9.13). It has been suggested that it be identified as the castellum Credi which is mentioned in the Annals of Tigernach as the site of a battle between Pictish factions in 728. There is no evidence of any defensive structure on the Moot Hill so perhaps unlikely, but there can be little doubt that the Moot Hill was the meeting-place, probably in 906, between Constantine II and Bishop Cellach ‘in colle Credulitatis prope regalie civitati Scoan’, at which date Scone is clearly recognised as the chief royal centre of the Kingdom. By the 9th century, the hill had become a symbolic sacred spot as a ceremonial mount for the inauguration of the Scottish Kings, and as a place specifically resorted to for royal assembly.  It is documented in historical sources. In an 11th-century source it is recorded that Kenneth, son of Alpin (about 848), ‘was the first King from the Gaels that assumed the Kingdom of Scone’. This has been taken to suggest that Kenneth secured Scone as his dynastic seat. Robert the Bruce was crowned at Scone in 1306 twice, that’s for another story a wee bit later.

“Geophysical survey was carried out over two weeks in July 2007. Ground penetrating radar (0.56ha) was used to produce a time slice across key target areas identified during 2005. Fluxgate-gradiometer (1.44ha) and resistivity (0.5ha) survey were also undertaken in an expanded survey area, using a higher resolution sampling strategy than in 2005. The 2007 survey has produced convincing evidence indicating the location and partial layout of the Augustinian abbey church and other elements of the monastic cloister. This was in the upper half of a landscaped slope which descends toward the SE from the lawns S of the Moothill and adjacent to Scone Palace. The radar results were particularly clear and corroborated the magnetic and resistance results. At approximately 1.53m deep in the radar time slice on the lawns and slope structural remains of the abbey church were encountered”.  Sorry folks, that’s a wee bit techno when I havnee had a dram!  Excavation (July 2008 – August 2009) NO 11448 26643 Trial trenching was undertaken in the grounds of Scone Palace on the site of Scone Abbey and Moothill mound in two seasons in July 2008 and August 2009. Ground-penetrating radar identified the site of the S and W range of the abbey cloister. At the Moothill two trial trenches were excavated, one at the northern base and the other at the SE base of the mound, trenches were located to investigate the line of a geophysical anomaly interpreted as a large in-filled ditch. The SE Moothill trench was located across a clearly resolved section of the ditch anomaly. On the upper inside slope of the ditch a cut slot feature was found around the historic base of the Moothill. In the base of this were hexagonal stakeholes, interpreted as the remains of a fence or palisade structure enclosing the mound. This feature had been cut through ditch fills containing medieval pottery. Archive: RCAHMS (intended) Funder: Hunter Archaeological Trust; Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust; Russell Trust; Society of Antiquaries of London; Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Strathmartine Trust

Statement of Scheduling This monument survives as the remains of the Moot Hill, the site of medieval royal coronation and assembly and the buried remains of part of the Augustinian abbey, specifically the church, cloister and ranges. Royal Assembly Place and Moot Hill – The Moot Hill at Scone is a large artificial or heavily modified natural mound, surrounded by a substantial ditch which now survives as a buried archaeological feature.  Augustinian Priory and later Abbey survives as buried remains and building foundations and the scheduled area includes the church and part of the medieval cemetery. Artefacts such as pottery and metalwork together with plant and animal remains can provide evidence for the daily life of the canons and for their economy and trading contacts. There is also potential to identify ancillary buildings relating to the canons’ agricultural activity and for scientific study of human burials that can inform understanding of diet, disease, stature, age and cause of death. Scone Abbey – There is also potential to explore how the economy and character of the abbey changed through time. Its’ function changed at the reformation, when a mob burned the abbey in 1559, the site later became a mausoleum for the Viscounts of Stormont. Royal Assembly Place and Moot Hill  While there are many important assembly sites in Scotland (Doomster Hill in Govan, Finlaggen in Islay, Dingwall, in Caithness and Law Ting Holm in Shetland), none are as well known as Scone, it has been suggested that the assembly mound is a modified prehistoric barrow. The importance of Scone for the kingdom (Scotland) is highlighted by its interchangeable use in historic documents with Scotland and Alba, as the early Kingdom of Scotland was often referred to as the Kingdom of Scone. This is very similar to the relationship between the royal site of Tara and the Kingdom of Ireland. The earliest reference to the Moot Hill is a document from the tenth century referred to as the Chronicles of the Kings of Alba (I mentioned earlier), which mentions the Hill of Faith in Scone. It was on the Hill of Faith in 906 that King Constantine II and the Bishop Cellach met and the King swore to uphold the customs of the church. This may have marked the transition from the coronation being a solely secular practice to one that had significant church involvement. Tradition has it that it was around this time that an ecclesiastical centre was founded at the site, possibly a Culdee monastery. The Stone of Scone, commonly referred to at the Stone of Destiny, played a central role in these ceremonies up until it was stolen by Edward I (England) in 1296. In the high medieval period, Scone continued to act as a royal power centre, and it was common for Scottish parliaments to be held there and charters to be issued from Scone and later at nearby Perth. This shift occurred under the Stewarts (Stuarts) when Stirling became the principle royal residence and power centre. Of the Stewart monarchs only James I and James IV were crowned at Scone, James II being crowned at Holyrood in Edinburgh, James III at Kelso, James V, Mary and James VI all crowned in Stirling. The Union of the crowns in 1606 ended the Scottish coronation tradition but the connection with Scone was briefly revived when Charles II was crowned at Scone in 1651. He was to be the last Scottish King to have his coronation at Scone, though Bonnie Prince Charlie symbolically stopped at Scone during the Jacobite rising of 1745.  The abbey in Scone is the location of the burials of King Robert II of Scotland and Maud, Countess of Huntingdon and wife of David I.  The abbey was burned and looted in 1559, by a mob from Perth – incited to destroy the site during a sermon by John Knox.

Sources ravished for my wee tale include: Historic Environment Scotland. Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID (28191). O Grady, O J T. 2009. Moothill and Abbey of Scone Project – Moothill and Scone Abbey, Perth and Kinross (Scone parish), excavation and geophysical survey , Discovery Excav Scot, New, vol. 10, 2009. Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire, England, pp. 158-159. Canmore

The legend of the Stone of Scone In legend, it was the biblical Jacob’s pillow. It was taken to Scythia, by Scota. She was the daughter of a pharoah. She married and her descendants became Kings of Spain. One of them carried the stone to Ireland then an early king of Scotland took it over to Argyll.  Columba got hold of it after he came to the island of Iona in 563AD. The myth, story, tale, call it what you will. It was invented as a story for Pope to prove the Scots were much older than the English. In 1996, the Stone was finally restored to the people of Scotland when the British Government returned it to Edinburgh Castle. But – is this the real stone? Many (myself included) think not, the real one is hidden in Perthshire somewhere.

The palace. The present owner, the 8th Earl of Mansfield, William David Murray, succeeded his father in 1971. Lord Mansfield is also 13th Viscount Stormont and Lord Scone, 11th Lord Balvaird and Hereditary Keeper of Bruce’s Castle of Lochmaben. A wealthy wee bugger, inherited his pile from a long line of inheritors!