The Stone of Destiny is an important symbol of Scottish nationhood and it is set to return to England for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

On its first outing south of the border since it was officially returned to Scotland after 700 years by then prime minister John Major in 1996, it will be transported under tight security.

This is before it is placed beneath the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey to be used as part of the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday, May 6.

Also known as the Stone of Scone, it has had a role in centuries of royal tradition, but why has it achieved such historic status?

Border Telegraph: The Stone of Destiny being returned to Scotland in 1996The Stone of Destiny being returned to Scotland in 1996 (Image: PA)

What is the Stone of Destiny?

The Stone of Destiny is a 125kg slab of pinkish sandstone measuring just 67cm in length, 24cm in width, and almost 27cm in height.

It has been used in the enthronement of kings for some time and its origins are a subject of much debate, apart from being made of a type of rock that was quarried near Scone.

It first entered recorded history in 1057 when Macbeth’s stepson Lulach was proclaimed King at Scone, and the stone is rumoured to have been used in this way since the fourth century.

However, since the 14th century, it has been used by English monarchs, and then British ones when James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603.

It had been removed by King Edward I of England in 1296, it was brought back to Scotland by a gang of four Scottish nationalists in a daring Christmas Day raid in 1950.

Following that it was returned to Westminster Abbey months later, and then in 1996 sent back north of the border to Edinburgh.

Professor Ewen Cameron, Sir William Fraser professor of Scottish history at the University of Edinburgh, said of its initial removal: “Edward was making a statement about the status of Scotland. One chronicler stated that its removal to London was ‘in recognition of a kingdom surrendered and conquered’.”