Book: America & Britain

The entire history of the Davidic throne in the British Isles is linked to a mysterious, yet biblically significant, “coronation stone” called, by the Irish, the “stone of destiny.” Beginning with the Milesian-Zarahite prince Eochaidh (see Chapter 12), every monarch of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain has been crowned on this very stone, including the present queen, Elizabeth II. This can hardly be a coincidence. As this appendix will show, the stone was delivered to the Isles by Jeremiah the prophet when he brought King Zedekiah’s daughter, Tephi, to Ireland to marry into the Judah-Zarahite royal line. The stone was subsequently relocated to Scotland, where it was used in the coronation of Scottish kings. Finally, it was moved in 1296 AD to Westminster Abbey in London. There, King Edward I had a special “coronation chair” built around the stone. Every king or queen of Britain has since been crowned in that chair.

Until the late 1950s, there was a plate attached to the chair near the stone with the inscription “Jacob’s Pillar Stone”—an obvious reference to Genesis 28:18. In 1996, the stone was returned, by request, to Scotland, where it is presently stored in Edinburgh Castle. The coronation stone will be returned to Westminster Abbey upon the crowning of the next monarch of Great Britain.

The stone measures about 26 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 10 inches thick. Its battered surface is marked by a crack running lengthwise. Iron rings are attached to each end through which a pole can be inserted to transport the stone (this was the common manner in which the tabernacle furnishings were carried; see Exodus 25; etc.).

But what is the origin of this mysterious stone? Was it really Jacob’s “pillar”? Did Jeremiah really bring the stone to Ireland—and why?

The Irish “Lia-Fail”

Setting aside myth and legend, established Irish history indicates that Jeremiah visited Ireland several years after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. In his company were Tephi, heiress to the Davidic throne, and Baruch, the prophet’s personal assistant and scribe. He also brought several significant items to the Isles—including a stone the Irish Israelites subsequently named Lia-Fail or “Stone of Destiny.” According to E. Raymond Capt, this is all verified in the annals of Ireland. “Many of the ancient Irish records, when making reference to an ‘eastern king’s daughter,’ also mention an old man; ‘a patriarch, a saint, a prophet,’ called ‘Ollam Fodhla,’ and his scribe-companion called ‘Simon Brug, Brach, Breack, Barech, Berach,’ as it is variously spelled [in the accounts]. Reportedly, they carried with them many ancient relics. Among these were a harp, an ark or chest, and a stone called, in Gaelic, ‘Lia-Fail’ (pronounced Leeah-Fail), meaning ‘Stone of Fate’ or ‘Hoary of Destiny.’ ”1 Capt, along with numerous other researchers, believes Lia-Fail is the same stone the patriarch Jacob anointed with oil at Bethel (Gen. 28:18-19). Capt writes: “In the ‘Chronicles of Eri’ by Milner, we find Eochaidh, the husband of Tea Tephi, associated with the stone Lia-Fail. The account is titled, ‘The Story of Lia-Fail,’ and states: ‘In the early days [of Israel’s sojourning] it [the stone] was carried about by priests on the march in the wilderness…. Later, it was borne by the sea from east to west, to the extremity of the world [at] the sun’s going [a Roman expression referring to Britain]. Its bearers had resolved, at starting, to move on the face of the waters in search of their [Israelite] brethren. Shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland, they yet came safe with Lia-Fail…. Eochaidh sent a [wagon] for Lia-Fail, and he himself was placed thereon [to be crowned].”2

As brought out in Chapter 12, Jeremiah was used of God to arrange a royal marriage between Tephi—the daughter of the last king of Judah—and Eochaidh, a Milesian-Zarahite prince of Ireland. This union not only healed the longstanding breach between the Pharez and Zarah lines of Judah, it preserved the line of Solomon and the Davidic throne. But how is the “stone of destiny” related to maintaining the throne of David?

The stone was eventually housed in an area called Tara, at the “Fort of the Kings,” near Ulster. At Tara, every subsequent king of Ireland was crowned while seated (or standing) on Lia-Fail. John Fox writes that Irish history “reveals that a continuous succession of ancient Irish kings were crowned on Lia-Fail for 1083 years.”3 Around 503 AD, the Irish prince Fergus Mor McEre (Fergus the Great) was highly successful in his military efforts to annex parts of western Scotland. Fergus soon established a significant kingdom in Scotland and wanted to be officially recognized. As Capt notes, Fergus’ intention was to “style himself king of Scotland.”4 Understanding the significance of the “stone of destiny,” Fergus had Lia- Fail brought to Scotland for his coronation as king. The stone was never returned to Ireland, but was kept in a sanctuary on the Isle of Iona. Like the Irish, every subsequent Scottish king was crowned on Lia-Fail (“Lea Gael” to the Scots). In 843 AD, the Scottish king Kenneth McAlpin moved the stone to Scone—hence, the stone’s later name “Stone of Scone.”5

In 1296 AD—when King Edward I of England conquered the Scots and became “overlord” of Scotland—Lia-Fail was moved to Westminster Abbey in London. There, King Edward promptly had a special “coronation chair” built around the stone. The Scottish and English kingdoms were subsequently united in 1603 when James VI of Scotland was crowned at Westminster Abbey—becoming King James I of England. Every king or queen of Britain has since been crowned in that very chair, and all British monarchs are considered Scottish.

Ultimately, the relationship between the Irish, Scottish, and English royal lines is rather complex. However, it has been through these thrones that the Davidic royal line has been preserved. Moreover, it appears that the significance of the Davidic throne itself centers on the meaning behind the “Stone of Destiny.”

Judah’s Kings Crowned on a Unique “Pillar”

Why would Jeremiah have brought this mysterious stone all the way to Ireland unless it had profound significance? Is it possible that Lia-Fail was the very “pillar-stone” associated with the coronation of all the kings of ancient Judah—and was thus central to Jeremiah’s divine commission to “build and plant” (Jer. 1:10)?

The British coronation ceremony appears to be taken directly from the Bible—from the coronations of David and Solomon. Today, a new monarch is anointed with oil by the Archbishop of Canterbury, trumpets are sounded, and the people shout “God save the King” (compare to I Samuel 10:24; I Kings 1:39; etc.).6 While a “coronation stone” is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible as a part of the crowning ceremony, there are unmistakable references that are usually overlooked. For example, when wicked Queen Athaliah usurped the throne of Judah, she had the remaining royal heirs put to death. Six years later, she discovered she had missed one of the heirs—Joash, who had been hidden as an infant. Ultimately, Joash was installed as king and Athaliah was executed (II Kings 11). But notice the description of Joash’s coronation, as witnessed by Athaliah herself: “And [Jehoiada, the high priest] brought forth the king’s son [Joash], and put the crown … upon him. And they made him king and anointed him, and clapped their hands and said, ‘Long live the king!’ And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the Temple of the LORD. And she looked, and behold, the king stood by a pillar as usually was done, and the rulers and the trumpeters were by the king. And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the priests blew with silver trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes, and cried, ‘Treason! Treason!’ ” (verses 12-14).

In II Chronicles 23:13, it says Joash “stood at his pillar.” But both accounts are poorly translated. The words by and at are the same Hebrew preposition, which is frequently translated on or upon. Moreover, in II Kings 11, the definite article is used—Joash “stood on the pillar.” In II Chronicles, the text reads, “stood on his pillar.” Thus, it was not just any pillar, but the pillar—one set apart for this purpose.

Notice that it was apparently routine to crown kings on this stone— the KJV reads, “as the manner was” (II Kings 11:14).

In a related example, King Josiah—known for his many righteous reforms—pledged before all the people to follow God’s way as revealed in the “book of the covenant.” He did so “standing upon the pillar” (as per the

But was this “coronation” pillar the future “Stone of Destiny”—the esteemed Lia-Fail of Ireland? Was it the “stone of Jacob”—the one he anointed at Bethel? If so, what makes it so special?

Jacob’s “Pillow” Stone

In Genesis 28, we read of Jacob’s journey to the area of Padan Aram in search of a wife. Along the way he spent the night at a place called Luz, using a stone for a pillow. That night Jacob had an unusual dream, wherein God reaffirmed to Jacob the earlier promises made to Abraham and Isaac. He said, “The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your seed. And your seed shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. And in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land, for I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you” (verses 13-15).

Jacob awoke and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Frightened, he added, “How fearful is this place! This is nothing but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (verses 16- 17). Jacob is inspired. He takes the “pillow” he had been sleeping on and sets it up as a “memorial stone”—and anoints it with oil. Then he renamed the place Bethel—“house of God.” Verses 20-22: “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘Since God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, and I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God. And this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be [symbolic of] God’s house. And of all that You shall give me, I will surely give the tenth to You.”

The physical dimensions of the Coronation Stone (see above) make it about the right size and shape for a pillow—yet no such stone would exist naturally. Its rectangular shape indicates that it had been quarried for building purposes—and apparently discarded. But why? Remember, the Stone of Destiny has a crack running its length. Such a crack would have rendered it unacceptable for building purposes; hence it would have been rejected. Moreover, such a stone would have made a perfect “pillar”—or marker stone—if stood on its end. Obviously, Jacob wanted to be able to locate this spot later.

Indeed, some two decades and a dozen children later, the patriarch was commanded to return to Bethel (Gen. 35:1). Once there—apparently with his entire household—Jacob built an altar to God and pledged to follow in His way. While at Bethel, God appeared to Jacob—changing his name to Israel and adding detail to the Abrahamic promises. “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob. Your name shall not be called Jacob any more, but Israel shall be your name.’ And He called his name Israel. And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall be from you, and kings shall come out of your loins. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land’ ” (verses 10-12). It is most interesting that God added the promise of “many kings” right in the place where Jacob had set up his “pillar”—the stone that would become the Coronation Stone of all the kings of Judah.

On this trip, Jacob once again sets up a pillar to honor God—pouring upon it a “drink offering” and anointing it with oil. Apparently, this second pillar was intended to be larger and permanent. Though the Bible does not say so, it is likely that at this time Jacob reclaimed the earlier “pillow” stone—with the intention of keeping it always.

The “Rock” of Israel

After Jacob’s death, the Bethel-stone remained the possession of his sons; it is likely that the tribe of Judah became its guardian, since the stone would come to be linked to royalty. Given the importance of the stone, there is no doubt that it accompanied the children of Israel on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.

As noted above, the Stone of Destiny has two “pole rings” used for transporting the pillar. The upper portion of each ring is worn thin, clearly indicating that the stone was carried for long distances. If the stone was only a “place marker” or a well cover, such rings would be unnecessary—and the wear on the rings would certainly not exist. Moreover, there is a groove worn between the two rings where such a pole would fit, indicative of the gradual erosion one would expect to find on a stone thus transported over an extended period. After all, Jacob’s esteemed pillar would not only have been taken to Egypt, it would have also been carried throughout their forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Presumably, it stayed in Jerusalem from the time of David until the fall of the nation in 586 BC.

Interestingly, the particular geological material that makes up the Coronation Stone (calcareous sandstone) apparently cannot be found in the British Isles—but it can be found in the Middle East. Capt writes: “One of the most significant facts about the Coronation Stone is that no similar rock formation exists in the British Isles. Professor [Charles] Totten, the eminent professor of science at Yale University [in the late 1800s], after making a thorough examination of the stone, made the following statement: ‘The analysis of the stone shows that there are absolutely no quarries in Scone or Iona [Scotland] [from which] a block so constituted could possibly have come, nor yet from Tara [Ireland].’ ” Capt also cites a professor Edward Odlum—a geologist at Ontario University in the early 1900s—who conducted a microscopic examination of the stone. Odlum could find no similar material in the Isles, but he did find a stratum of sandstone in the vicinity of Bethel that is geologically identical to the Coronation Stone!7

As the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, the Scriptures suggest that a highly favored rock accompanied them. In Exodus 17, we see that the Israelites were in need of water—and Moses turned to God for help. God instructed Moses to strike a certain rock on which He would stand (verses 5-6). This was not just a rock in the wilderness—it was, as per the Hebrew, “the rock”—indicating a specific one. Did God direct Moses to Jacob’s Bethel-stone, a rock everyone recognized? Likewise, in Numbers 20, God again directs Moses to speak to “the rock” in the presence of the people (verses 8-11). The indication here is that the people were quite familiar with this unique rock and aware of the miracles associated with it. Again, was this Jacob’s pillar stone? Later, as the children of Israel passed through the area of Edom, they promised to refrain from drinking the water of the land (verse 17). This suggests that they had a ready supply of water— perhaps via the same rock.

The apostle Paul makes a veiled reference to a rock that “followed” Israel (I Cor. 10:4)—using it as a symbol of Christ.8 He was undoubtedly comparing Jacob’s pillar—the rock that literally accompanied the children of Israel, miraculously giving them life-saving water—to the spiritual Rock of Israel, Jesus the Messiah, Who offers mankind the living water of eternal life (John 4:14). Jesus, like Jacob’s cracked pillar, was rejected of men (I Pet. 2:4-8)—yet chosen of God.9 Indeed, Jacob’s Bethel pillar-stone is thoroughly messianic, pointing us to the living Stone of Israel. The “Stone of Destiny” is uniquely tied to the ongoing preservation of the Davidic throne because Jesus’ destiny is to ultimately sit on that very throne (Luke 1:32-33)—leading all mankind to eternal life.


1. E. Raymond Capt, Jacob’s Pillar, p. 31. Capt also states: “The arrival in Ireland of the Bethel Stone rests upon the authority of the ancient records of Ireland and the traditions which abound there” (p. 29). 

2. Capt, p. 32

3. John Fox, The World’s Greatest Throne, p. 30

4. Capt, p. 43

5. Fox, p. 30 6. Interestingly, the royal crown of Great Britain contains 12 jewels made from the same type of stones that were in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex. 28:15-21).

6. Interestingly, the royal crown of Great Britain contains 12 jewels made from the same type of stones that were in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex. 28:15-21).

7. Capt, p. 59

8. I Corinthians 10:6 shows that Paul was making an analogy—“these things were our examples.” The Greek is tupos—meaning type or figure; “these things” refers to being “baptized” in the cloud and in the sea, eating “spiritual” food (manna), and drinking “spiritual” water from a rock that “followed” them. God gave these literal, physical blessings to Israel in the wilderness, yet they still sinned and displeased Him (verse 5). The point Paul is making is that whereas Israel only had the physical type, we have the spiritual reality. Baptism, manna, water, and the rock are all types pointing us to the Messiah. Thus, we are to be all the more diligent to please God and not neglect these spiritual blessings (verses 5-12). The rock that accompanied Israel was no doubt Jacob’s pillar—a type of Christ, God’s greatest blessing on “spiritual Israel,” the church.

9. There is a tradition that Jacob’s pillar was to be included as a cornerstone in the building of Solomon’s Temple. After all, Bethel means “house of God.” But the builders rejected the stone because of its crack. If this story is true, it is all too fitting: The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day rejected Him as the Messiah—the spiritual Cornerstone of the age to come—because He failed to conform to their ideals (see Matt. 21:42-45; Acts 4:10-12; Eph. 2:20-21; I Pet. 2:4-8). Moreover, the Coronation Stone is quite an ordinary looking stone, not something one would normally make a “royal” fuss about. Indeed, the pillar has no “form” or “comeliness”—no “beauty” that it should be particularly desired—just as was true of Jesus (Isa. 53:2). Thus, both Jacob’s stone and Jesus—type and antitype—were “despised” and “rejected of men” (verse 3).