1249 - Accession of Alexander III

The Stone of Scone and the Making of a King, 1249

On 13 July 1249, Alexander III had his formal inauguration as king. Despite this account he was not crowned. The account is preserved in the writings of Walter Bower, canon of Inchcolm. Writing 200 years later, he seems to have transferred some of the customs of his day back to the past. However, his account does have the main parts of the ceremony: the sitting on the stone, the acclamation of the people, the reciting of the genealogy, evidently in Gaelic. At this date Gaelic was beginning to be pushed out of use at the royal court - note how this account plays it down by implying that the seannachie [bard] had just popped up, as if from nowhere. Perhaps when Walter Bower incorporated the older material into his Scotichronicon, he failed to understand the significance of the role of the 'Highland Scot'. Preserved by later chroniclers, the substance of this account gives the first detailed picture of the 'making' of a Scots monarch.

How a certain highland Scot greeted the king as he sat upon the royal seat of stone

In accordance with the custom which had grown up in the kingdom from antiquity right up to that time, after the solemn ceremony of the king's coronation, the bishops with the earls brought the king to the cross which stands in the cemetery at the east end of the church. With due reverence they installed him there on the royal seat which had been bedecked with silk cloths embroidered with gold. So when the king was solemnly seated on this royal seat of stone, with his crown on his head and his sceptre in his hand, and clothed in royal purple, and at his feet the earls and other nobles were setting down their stools to listen to a sermon, there suddenly appeared a venerable, grey-haired figure, an elderly Scot. Though a wild highlander he was honourably attired after his own fashion, clad in a scarlet robe. Bending his knee in a scrupulously correct manner and inclining his head, he greeted the king in his mother tongue, saying courteously: 'God bless the king of Albany, Alexander mac Alexander, mac William, mac Henry, mac David.' And so reciting the genealogy of the kings of Scots he kept on to the end. In Latin [translated here into English] this is:
Hail Alexander, king of Scots, son of Alexander, son of William, son of Henry, son of David, son of Malcolm, son of Duncan, son of Bethoc, daughter of Malcolm, son of Kenneth, son of [Malcolm, son of Donald, son of Constantine, son of Kenneth, son of] Alpin, son of Eochaid [or Achay], son of Aed Find, son of Eochaid, son of Domnall Brecc, son of Eochaid Buide, son of Aedan, son of Gabran, son of Domangart, son of Fergus Mor, son of Erc, son of Eochaid Munremor, son of Engusafith, son of Fethelmech Aslingith, son of Enegussa Buchin, son of Fethelmech Romaich, son of Sencormach, son of Cruithlinch, son of Findachar, son of Akirkirre, son of Ecthach Andoch, son of Fiachrach Catmail, son of Ecddach Ried, son of Coner, son of Mogolama, son of Lugchag Etholach, son of Corbe Crangring, son of Daradiomore, son of Corbe Findmor, son of Coneremor, son of Ederskeol, son of Ewen, son of Eliela, son of Iair, son of Dethach, son of Sin, son of Rosin, son of Ther, son of Rether, son of Rowem, son of Arindil, son of Mane, son of Fergus the first king of the Scots in Albany.

Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, v, eds S. Taylor, D. E. R. Watt, B. Scott, Aberdeen, 1990.

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