Scone Abbey was a house of Augustinian canons. Historians have long believed that Scone was before hat time the center of the early medieval Christian cult of the Culdees. Very little is known about the Culdees but it is thought that a cult may have been worshiping at Scone from as early as 700 AD. Archaeological surveys taken in 2007 suggest that Scone was a site of real significance even prior to 841 AD, when Kenneth MacAlpin brought the Stone of Destiny, Scotland's most prized relic and coronation stone, to Scone.
The priory was established by six canons from Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire under the leadership of Prior Robert, who was the first prior of Scone. The foundation charter, dated 1120, was once thought to be a fake version of the original, but it is now regarded as a copy made in the late 12th century. Perhaps the copy was needed after a fire which occurred there sometime before 1163 and presumably damaged or destroyed the original. Scone Priory suffered a similar destruction of records during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
After the reformation in 1559, Scottish abbeys disappeared as institutions, although not overnight, as some suggest. The abbey at Scone continued to function well into the 17th century. There are existing documents describing repairs made to the spire of the abbey church dating from 1620. Scone Abbey and its attendant parish ceased to function in 1640 and was reformed in the late 16th century as a secular lordship first for the Earl of Gowrie, and then for Sir David Murray of Gospertie. The property and lordship have been in the possession of the Murrays of Scone ever since. Later, this branch of the Murray clan became the Earls of Mansfield.
The precise location of Scone Abbey had long remained a mystery, but in 2007 archaeologists pinpointed the location using magnetic resonance imaging technology. The find revealed the structure to have been somewhat larger than had been imagined and revealed that the Moot Hill had at some point been surrounded by a ditch and palisade; marking it out not as a defensive position but as a hugely significant sanctum within which kings professed their vows to the people of Scotland. A stylised illustration of the abbey on one of its seals suggests that it was a major Romanesque building, with a central tower crowned with a spire.
Today there is a replica of the Stone of Destiny in front of a 19th-century Presbyterian mortuary chapel on Moot Hill.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.