London, June 16 : Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has said he believes the Stone of Destiny is a medieval forgery.
The iconic stone, on which Scottish, English and British monarchs have been crowned since the ninth century, has long been a symbol of nationhood.
It was captured by Edward I in 1296 and taken to Westminster Abbey, but returned to Scotland 700 years later in 1996, and placed in Edinburgh Castle.
Salmond dropped a cultural bombshell on Sunday when he claimed that the Stone of Destiny, one of Scotland's most famous relics, was a medieval fake.
According to a legend, Jacob used the ancient stone as a pillow when he dreamt of a ladder to heaven, The Telegraph reported.
But Scotland's First Minister is convinced that it may be no more than a worthless lump of Perthshire sandstone.
He believes it was passed off as the real coronation stone when Edward stormed Scone Abbey in 1296.
Salmond said: "If you're the abbot of Scone and the strongest and most ruthless king in Christendom is charging toward you in 1296 to steal Scotland's most sacred object and probably put you and half of your cohorts to death, do you do nothing and wait until he arrives or do you hide yourself and the stone somewhere convenient in the Perthshire hillside? I think the second myself."
He is not even convinced that the "fake" stone plundered from Scone was the same one that was returned to Scotland by Michael Forsyth, the then Tory Scottish Secretary, in 1996.
On Christmas Day 1950, the Stone of Destiny was stolen from below the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey by a group of radical nationalist students.
There have long been rumours that a Glasgow stonemason, Baillie Robert Gray, made copies of the stone when he was asked to repair it after it broke in two during the raid.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Westminster Abbey said she had always believed the stone was genuine.