One of the best-kept

secrets of the war, a

plan for Scotland's

Crown Jewels, has

been revealed to

SCOTLAND'S Crown Jewels, the Honours of Scotland, were buried to

escape the clutches of Hitler, it has been discovered during

preparations for a new exhibition at Edinburgh Castle.

Mr Christopher Tabraham, principal inspector of ancient monuments with

Historic Scotland, said yesterday that a well-known tale of Scottish

history was how the Honours were smuggled out of Dunnottar Castle under

the very noses of the English and buried for eight years beneath the

floor of Kinneff Kirk to keep them from Oliver Cromwell.

However, the measures taken to foil Hitler if the Nazis had occupied

Scotland had only now become clear.

When war broke out in 1939, the Honours were packed into their great

oak chest in Edinburgh Castle and covered with sandbags in a cellar

beneath the Crown Room because of the risk of air raids. More serious

measures were called for as the likelihood of a German invasion mounted.

Mr Tabraham and Mr Charles Burnett, Ross Herald of Arms, write in a

new book that on May 12, 1941, the Honours were removed from the chest,

packed into two zinc-lined cases, and buried in separate locations in

the ruins of David's Tower, the medieval tower house entombed beneath

the Half-Moon Battery.

The Crown and the Stewart Jewels were buried beneath the floor of a

latrine-closet, and the Sceptre, Sword of State, Belt, Scabbard and Wand

were concealed in a wall.

Plans indicating the locations were sealed in envelopes and sent in

the utmost secrecy, one each to King George VI; the Secretary of State

for Scotland; the King's and Lords' Treasurer's Remembrancer; and the

Governor-General of Canada.

Hitler, unlike the Lord Protector, never made it to Scotland and when

the war ended the Honours were restored to public display.

Mr Tabraham said yesterday: ''We were taken by surprise when we found

out about the burial during the war. We discovered this in an old

Ministry of Works file which had been closed and sent to the Scottish

Record Office. It came to light when we were doing conservation work on

pieces for the new display.

''I think the people who buried the Honours were confident they could


Mr Tabraham was speaking in advance of the #1.5m Honours of the

Kingdom exhibition at Edinburgh Castle which opens today.

The exhibition, with multimedia techniques, tells the story of the

Scottish regalia from the dark ages to the present day by using

colourful tableaux, music, and models.

The Crown Room, the heart of the exhibition, has been improved by new

fibre optic lighting and environmental control to ensure the best

presentation of the regalia. The Crown rests on a new hand-crafted


Mr Graeme Munro, director and chief executive of Historic Scotland,

said that the Honours dated from the reigns of James IV and James V.

They were the oldest royal regalia in the British Isles and among the

oldest in Europe.

The Honours as seen today were first used as coronation regalia at the

enthronement of the infant Mary Queen of Scots at Stirling Castle in

1543 and were present at all subsequent coronations until that of

Charles II at Scone in 1651, the last coronation in Scotland.

The Honours were present at sessions of the Scottish Parliament until

March, 1707, when they were laid to rest in the great oak chest, where

Sir Walter Scott discovered them in 1818.

Mr Munro said the opening of the exhibition completed the second phase

of development of visitor services to Edinburgh Castle. Major

expenditure on improvements was planned until at least 1999, by which

time #9m would have been invested.

Edinburgh Castle had almost one million visitors in 1992, and it was

hoped the Honours exhibition would increase the number, he said.

A spokesman for Historic Scotland said that special consideration had

been given to the needs of disabled visitors.