Teacher and member of the group that brought The Stone of Destiny north.

Born: 1928; Died: July 6, 2013

Kay Matheson, who has died aged 84, was one of four students from Glasgow University who removed The Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1950. It was, they considered, being repatriated after Edward I had forcibly removed the historic stone from Scotland in 1296 as a spoil of war. Ms Matheson, a fervent Scottish Nationalist, drove a car through numerous police road blocks and played a key role in the adventure.

Kay Matheson was born in Inverasdale in the western Highlands and was politically active while studying to be a teacher. She was involved in spectacular bursts of political activity, but for most of her life was a teacher. She taught domestic science at Achtercairn School, now Gairloch High School.

On the night she helped removed the stone, she was joined by Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon and Alan Stuart. The four only knew each other slightly – they were all members of the Scottish Covenant Association – but Ms Matheson and Mr Hamilton had been politically active in various campaigns. Ms Matheson's strong patriotic resolve never left her. She once said: "Our recovery, not theft, of the Stone informed our whole lives."

The Stone has a long tradition and is supposed to have been brought by the migrating Gaels from the east to Scota. For centuries it was kept at Scone and used at the crowning of Scottish Kings until 1296. Traditionally, the Stone belongs to the Scottish people and when it was not returned in 1328 deep animosity was fomented.

The four students' organisation was a touch ramshackle and ill-prepared, but all had a determined zeal to get The Stone of Scone back to Scotland. As Ms Matheson once said: "We would never have used violence but four resolute youngsters, pressing on regardless, can achieve quite a lot. We pressed on regardless."

The Stone was a symbol that represented Scotland's heritage. The years after the Second World War were not easy and industrial Scotland was trying to adapt to very different social and commercial conditions. Nationalism was emerging as a real alternative and offered many throughout Scotland a definite identity and pride in the past and traditions. It is no coincidence that Ms Matheson was a life-long supporter of the Gaelic.

Nothing, however, on that Christmas Eve, went easily. They drove from Glasgow and booked into a guest house near the Abbey. The landlady alerted the police, who came and interviewed the students but left them alone. Ms Matheson had contacted a serious cold and she stayed in the car outside the Abbey as the three Tartan Musketeers, as they became known, forced an entry. It was before high security and the three got in by a side door with a crowbar. Then Mr Hamilton was discovered by a watchman, who presumed he was a vagrant.

The boys manhandled the Stone to the door by dragging it on one of their overcoats and it promptly cracked and broke in two. Using two cars, the group left The Stone of Scone in an anonymous field in Kent and drove north. They carefully avoided roadblocks and returned to Glasgow where they were heroes. When they learnt that leaving the Stone in the open could cause permanent damage they returned to the field and retrieved it with the help of some obliging Irish travellers.

The students offered a compromise. They would return the Stone, wrapped in The Saltire, to the authorities at Arbroath Abbey – the site of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. On April 11, 1951 the police were there to arrest them but made no charges. The Stone was returned to Westminster Abbey until 1996, when it was moved amongst much ceremony to Edinburgh Castle. With understandable pride Ms Matheson was present at that ceremony.

In 2008 a film was made Stone of Destiny with Ms Matheson played by Kate Mara. Another film, An Ceasnachadh, focused on Ms Matheson's interrogation by the authorities: the Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes played the role of Ms Matheson.

The film certainly captured Ms Matheson's determined attitude and ability to stand up for her role in the plot. On the night the stone was moved, with Ms Matheson in her sick bed, the group discussed whether to proceed and, according to Mr Hamilton, had the following conversation.

Matheson: "Doesn't a lass get to vote?"

Hamilton: [Surprised at her being awake]. "I thought you couldn't hear us."

Matheson: "I'm sick, not dead."

She lived most of her life at Inverasdale with her mother and was, for many years, a close friend of Winnie Ewing, SNP MP for Highlands and Islands.

In the 1980s, Ms Matheson played a central role in the Ceartas (Gaelic for Justice) protest. They wanted to draw attention to the unequal treatment of the Gaelic language and protested throughout Scotland by defacing road signs and the like.

The adventure that Christmas Day remained central to Ms Matheson's life. Her pride in being Scottish was reflected in her thanks to the nation when the four were not arrested.

"It was the people of Scotland who saved us," she said. "They made it abundantly clear that there would be riots if they attempted to prosecute us."

She died at a care home at Aultbea, near Loch Ewe, where she had been living for about 20 years. She never married.