David Douglas and Scone


The current Scone Palace is Georgian neo-Gothic, built between 1802-1808 as an extension of a late 16th century building.

Scone Palace

The site is much older than that – just beyond the house is the Moot Hill which is the ancient crowning place of the kings of Scotland, now with a Georgian chapel on top.

Chapel on the Moot Hill

The village of Scone was one in the grounds of the house – or possibly the abbey and the old house were in the village – but about the same time the house was rebuilt the owners got tired of having a village so close and moved it a couple of miles away.

There are various remnants of the old village left in the grounds – the gate in the old walls, the market cross, and even old graves.

Scone gate

This stone, near the original site of the church but now alone in the woods, marks the grave of John Wright, minister of Scone in the late 18th century, and his son.

Old tomb

I might come back and visit the house some time, but this time I had really come to look for David Douglas. He was born in the old village of Scone in 1799, just before all this was going on, and started his career as an apprentice gardener at the palace. The first Douglas fir in Scotland is in the grounds, grown from seeds which Douglas sent back in 1826.

The Douglas Fir

A little pavilion nearby holds information about Douglas and other Scottish botanists and plant collectors of the time.

David Douglas pavilion

It’s a nice little building, decorated with carved cones, all with the distinctive three-tongued bract of the Douglas fir.

Cone in the ceiling

One of the boards told me that there was a memorial to Douglas in the grounds of Old Scone church, but although the handful of remaining buildings of Old Scone are just outside the gates, it turns out that Old Scone church has been moved up to New Scone. So that’s something I really will have to go back and see, along with the plant collectors pavilion at Pitlochry…

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