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As we saw last week, others tried and failed but the Raiders succeeded in dramatic, even glorious fashion.The escapade was deadly serious, but had its lighter moments, and there is simply no way of understating the joy it brought to many in post-war Scotland.It was the moment of no return, as Hamilton recalled decades later.“You sort of know that when you take a crowbar to a side door of Westminster Abbey and jemmy the lock that there isn’t really any going back, don’t you?All four of the Raiders were allowed to carry on with their studies and were never brought to trial, the prosecuting authorities deciding it was not in the public interest to take them to court, presumably because they knew the case would make embarrassing headlines and boost the nationalist cause.Hamilton even wrote a book about the removal and return of the Stone and it was published the following year. The Ian Hamilton character in the 2008 movie summed up the feelings of the Raider and many others besides: “On that day I heard the voice of Scotland speak as loudly as it did in 1320.



Lawyer “King” John Mc Cormick had left the SNP to form the Scottish Convention and the Glasgow University graduate succeeded in making his alma mater one of the few hotbeds of nationalism.We all knew about it of course, we learned as children how it was the Scottish stone of kings, but they took it from us. Rationing was still in force and housing was the crucial issue in the many poverty-stricken areas across the land.The Tories ruled the roost, the Liberals were in decline and Labour had disgracefully removed Home Rule from its manifesto.The film Stone of Destiny (2008) captured the youthful exuberance of the quartet but also portrayed the gravity of their intent.

Charlie Cox, playing Ian Hamilton, sums up their motivation in his first lines: “It was only a rock, a big lump of sandstone, you might pass right by it, but to us, it was symbol of our freedom, of our independence. It was history.” Scotland in 1950 was a very different place to what it is now.

HEADLINES were made the world over and in Scotland the reaction was mostly indignation on the part of dyed-in-the-wool Unionists and happiness for almost everyone else at the thought that Scotland’s stone might be on its way home.



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