Have you ever considered why a lion, an eastern beast, came to be the blazon of a country situated so far west as Scotland, in the icy north. The earliest official recorded use of the Lion Rampant being used as a royal emblem in Scotland was by Alexander II in 1222 C.E. but according to Jewish legends the red lion symbolises the heritage of the Royal Blood Line of King David in Scotland. And their proof revolves around the movements of the legendary Stone of Destiny.
ANCIENT STONE SEATS OF POWER
In Western Europe, the practice of using stones in coronation rituals is first recorded in 800 C.E. with Charlemagne and his marble throne, which is still on display in Aix-la-Chapelle, France. But no king making artefact in the history of the western world has attracted such a culturally diverse range of stories, legends and upheaval as Jacob's Pillow, alternatively known as the Lia Fáil, the Coronation Stone of Tara, the Westminster Stone, The Stone of Destiny and The Stone of Scone.
Scotland's legacy with the Lia Fáil begins in the 6th century when it was transported from Ireland to the tiny Island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland, the traditional head quarters of the Celtic Christian Church. It was the principal seat of Scots monarchs until the 9th century when a Viking raid caused it to be moved to the mainland for safe keeping.
Over time it found its way to Scone Abbey, near Perth in central Scotland, where for almost 400 years it was used in the coronation ritual of a succession of Scottish Kings, right up to 1296 C.E. when it was captured and taken to England by King Edward I. It was installed beneath the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey and for over 700 years every single monarch of England was crowned sitting above this sacred stone. It was returned to Scotland in 1996 where it remains in the treasury at Edinburgh castle beside the Crown Jewels of Scotland.
A faction of researchers, including myself, propose a long list of observations which together are known as The Westminster Stone theory. We reason that the Abbot of Scone, the stones custodian, would have ensured that the real stone would have been transported to a place of safety before the English troops arrived. Supporting this concept, the English army arrived at the Scottish borders in March 1296, and did not reach Scone until June. Three months is ample time for a replica stone to have been made and many believe the stone was switched. Many believe that King Edward returned to England with a “block of coarse grained old red sandstone, of the type found in the hills around Scone” - a cesspit cover from Stirling Castle.
The Westminster Stone theory presents various locations as the possible hiding place of the true stone. Most famously author and historian Nigel Tranter in his book The Stone wrote that the true stone was originally hidden by the Abbot of Scone and later entrusted to Aonghus Óg Mac Domhnaill, by King Robert the Bruce, who hid it in the Hebrides. It has also been written that the stone was hidden by monks in the River Tay and legends claim it remains at Macbeth's Castle on Dunsinnan Hill in Perthshire. Other researchers believe the true stone is held by the modern Order of Scottish Knights Templar. They do indeed keep a stone, but I can assure you it is not the true Stone of Destiny.
SCOTLAND'S LOST ORIGINS
The most important document in Scotland's history is the Declaration of Arbroath. Signed in 1320 C.E. during the Wars of Scottish Independence with the Kingdom of England, by thirty-six Scottish knights, this iconic declaration was sent to the pope in Rome declaring Scotland's independence from England. Its content and structure was deemed so important that a 1997 US Senate Resolution states that the American Declaration of Independence was modelled on the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath.
Although you have heard of this monumental document, have you taken a moment to consider the meaning of its first two lines?
"They journeyed from Greater Scythia [Greece] by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today."
The Declaration of Arbroath claims that three hundred and thirty years before Christ, a small colony of explorers from distant Scythia somehow arrived in Scotland. This claim was in part inspired by a story in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Irish Christian pseudo-history in which a tribe of oceanic explorers, the Milesians, are recorded as having settled in Ireland. And with them, a magical stone which was central in their king making ceremonies - The Lia Fáil (the Fatal Stone).
Every story about the Lia Fáil presents a variation on the locations, dates, people and key events associated with it but most historians agree it was first recorded in Biblical legends as a rectangular, dark, hard, basalt stone. It was later confused with a second sacred stone which the Milesian explorers possessed - a chair/throne fashioned from white marble. Both ancient Jews and Christians believed Jacob's Pillow/Stone was destined to become Gods Throne on Earth, prophesied to come forth upon the second coming of Christ at the End of Days. But we must be careful when reading such claims because last century a powerful British-Israeli movement warped much of European history to suit its own ends.
How did the Lia Fáil get from the Holy Land to Scotland?
Jewish legends claim that during the Exodus, when the Israelites conquered Canaan and built the city of Jerusalem, the Lia Fáil fulfilled its destiny in the Holy Temple becoming the Throne of King David and a pedestal for the Ark of the Covenant. After David's son, King Solomon, subsequently built his temple all the succeeding kings in the royal line of David line were crowned upon it until king Zedekiah was overthrown by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon around 586 BCE.
At this time the legends split. One version recounts the Prophet Jeremiah accompanying King Zedekiah's daughter, Tea-Tephi of the line of David, to Ireland with the Lia Fáil and the Ark of the Covenant. Tea Tephi, queen of Israel and Gibraltar, is believed to have arrived at the royal seat on the Hill of Tara in Ireland where she married Eochaidh - the High king of Ireland. In this account Eochaidh was a descendant of Judah/Zarah 'of the Red-Hand' and some believe it is this union/marriage that explains the red hand mounted upon the Star of David, under the royal crown on the Ulster flag - symbolising the union of the two Biblical royal bloodlines in Ireland, which sprang from the line of Judah.
But in reality, if the prophet Jerimahia had travelled to Ireland, this event would have been recorded in every single early Irish Christian text and the fact would be a fundamental precept in western Christian theology.
The second version of the legend claims that following the downfall of king Zedekiah in Jerusalem the Prophet Jeremiah, and the remaining people of Judah, took the Lia Fáil to Egypt where they met their kinsman Joseph, who had become the Pharaoh's right-hand man. The people of Judah are said to have found sanctuary in Egypt with a garrison of Greek mercenaries from the town of Miletus, the principal port of the Greek province of Caria.
The legendary leader of the Greek army was Gaythelos Miledh.
Scottish legends claim Gaythelos was the son of Cecops, the semi-mythical founder of Athens and the King of Attica. Cecrops was also known as Calcol, who was the son of Zarah Judah, making Gathelus Judah's great grandson. Miledh is said to have fled to Egypt after being banished from Greece, arriving at a time the Pharaoh was at war with the King of Ethiopia. Miledh's mercenaries are said to have helped the Pharaoh win many wars and in gratitude the Pharaoh granted Miledh a territory for his people, and gave him one of his daughters as a wife - princess Scota/Scotia (from where the Scots are said to derive their name). Miledh's is said to have befriended the Israelites in Egypt and that Moses secretly passed him the Lia Fáil for safekeeping. Moses went on to foretell that the sacred stone was:
"destined to be taken to a land in the west where a Milesian king would rightfully rule and propagate the royal line of Judah."
Enraged by his closeness to the children of Israel the Pharaoh waged war on Miedh and his followers. He, his wife Scotia and their friends and servants, both Greeks and Egyptians, fled Egypt with the Stone of Destiny destined to find the prophesied land in the west where the descendants of king David could reign once again.
Miledh's OCEANIC ADVENTURES
Over the last 900 years many historical accounts have detailed the adventures and wars the Milesians encountered on their voyage westwards to Ireland. They are generally said to have sailed northwards through central Europe across a waterway which is no longer existent. Arriving in Norway they were welcomed by the pagan tribes for their wide knowledge of sciences and magical arts which they had learned in Greece and Egypt. After several years, commanded by Miledh, an elite unit of explorers carrying the Lia Fáil sailed from Norway. Irish legends recount:
"They [Gathelus and his people] had four noble jewels which they brought from these cities namely, A Stone of Virtue from Falais that is called the Lia Fail and it is it that used to roar under each king of Ireland on his being chosen by them up to the time of Conchubhar [time of Christ], and it is to that stone is called in Latin Saxum Fatale."
The Milesians then attacked and subsequently settled in the north east coast of Scotland in areas recorded as being called Dobhar and Iardobhar where they warred with native Picts for 7 years. The names of Scottish villages, such a Golspie in Sutherland, are said to maintain the roots of the Milesians leader - Goídel-Glas/Gaythelos.
From Scotland, the Milesians next sailed south and founded a kingdom at Brigantium, now Compostella in north west Spain.
When Miledh reigned in Spain his throne was a white marble chair known as the lapis fatalis cathedrae instar (the stone chair that roars). In contrast to this the stone Jacob used as a pillow - Lia Fáil - was a dark, rectangular, basalt stone which was also said to roar. Every historian has a different perspective on how these two sacred stones were actually used together in coronation ceremonies, but I think it most probable that Jacobs Pillow was set into the white marble throne, much in the same way as it is used today in the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey. How did the Lia Fáil and the white marble throne get from Spain to Ireland and then to Scotland?
Legends recount Simon Breck, a descendant of Miledh, sailing from Spain to Ireland carrying both the Lia Fáil and the white marble chair, in which he was subsequently crowned as High King of the Milesians/Scot's in Ireland. The Leabhar Gabhala, or the Book of the Conquests of Ireland, recounts Miledh's brother Ith sailing from the Tower of Breogan in Gallicia, Spain to Ireland.
While Ith was in Ireland Miledh died and Queen Scotia became the sole keeper of the Lia Fáil and Miledh's white marble throne. Scotia, her eight sons, and the Milesian army invaded Ireland but the Tuatha Dé Danann wizards had raised a fearful storm that killed five of Scotia's sons.
Queen Scotia was herself killed when her ship was wrecked on the Irish coast and she never saw her son Eremon crowned as the first king of the Scots on Irish soil. The Milesians established their new royal seat at the Hill of Tara and Moses's prophecy had apparently been fulfilled - the stone found "a land in the west where a Milesian king of the line of Judah would sit on the Throne." Ireland was divided into five territories by Gathelus' remaining sons Eber and Eremon. The famous Tea of Irish history, whom British-Israelites and various churches repeatedly, erroneously, claim to be the daughter of King Zedekiah of Judah, received land close to the present-day city of Dublin which became known as the Hill of Tara.
After Queen Scotia died many centuries of territorial wars broke out between the Eremonians the Eberians. During this time the descendants of the sons of Gathelus left their original territories and around 500 C.E. they sailed the Irish Sea and founded the kingdom of Dál Riata (also Dalriata and Dalriada ) on the west coast of modern day Scotland. The Scoti established a new religious centre in the Kilmartin Glen on a high hill overlooking the River Add they erected a fortress called Dunadd (the Place of the Kings) where the Stone of Destiny was used to coronate the Scots Kings of Dalriada.
Fergus Conquers Argyll
Hundreds of stories in Scotland and Ireland recount the adventures of Fergus invading Scotland, but of interest to us is an entry in The Compendium of World History by Herman L. Hoeh:
"Precisely 390 years after A.D 721, some of the house of Israel migrated to the distant land settled long before by their brethren. In the year AD 331 - 330 they journeyed out of Scythia to Scotland and upon landing on the southwestern coast of Scotland they met fierce resistance from the Pictish tribes. After suffering many defeats the colony sought help from the high-king at Tara."
King Ferguhard sent the Stone of Destiny to Scotland with his son Fergus where he was "coronated upon the Stone of Destiny to stabilize his realm in Scotland and became the first Scots King in Scotland". In 563 C.E. both the Lia Fáil and the white marble chair were protected in Scotland by St. Columba. With twelve companions this highly educated, powerful monk landed on the tiny island of Iona and with the Stone of Destiny he established Christianity in Scotland.
In 574 C.E. Columba crowned King Aidan on the stone at Dunadd and this location was used for coronations until 834 C.E. at which time Kenneth MacAlpin, son of a Pictish princess and a Scot king, became king of Dalriada and ruled over the Picts and the Scot’s. He took the Stone of Destiny to Scone Abbey, near Perth in central Scotland, to mark the centre of the new united Kingdom of Alban. Miledh, the brave Greek navigator, and his band of Scot's had settled in Norway, Spain and Ireland, and finally found a perminant home in a land which became known as Scotland, after Scotia, their Egyptian Queen.
Lets return to the initial question, why an eastern beast, a Lion, came to be the blazon of a country lying as far west as Scotland, in the Icy North? Campion's Historie of Ireland tells us:
"First therefore came from Ireland Fergusius, the Son of Ferchardus; a man very famous for his skill in blazoning of armes. Himselfe bore the Red Lyon, rampant in a Golden Field (John Major, lib. 2, cap.1 ). There was in Ireland a monument of marble, fashioned like a throne...This marble Fergusius obtained towards the prospering of his voyage, and in Scotland he left it, which they used many years after, in Coronation of their kings at Scone."
The ancient Milesian flag which was flown in Egypt, Spain, Ireland and Scotland was a red Lion rampant, representing the Lion of Judah. It is quite possible that the Scottish Royal Banner of Arms, the Lion Rampant of Scotland, whispers memories of the Tribe of Judah, immortalising the Milesian's mythological ancient voyage and encoding the transnational heritage of Scotland’s Stone of Destiny. It's quite a thought.