"Stone Voices" is Neal Ascherson's return to his native Scotland. It is an exploration of Scottish identity, but this is no journalistic rumination on the future of that small nation. Instead it weaves together a story of deep time - the time of geology and archaeology, of myth and legend - with the story of modern Scotland and its rebirth.
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(198mm x 126mm x 19mm)
Publisher: Granta Books
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
On St Andrew's Day 1996 a crowd of people outside the gates of Holyrood House silently watched a gleaming military Land Rover begin its journey up to Edinburgh Castle. Driven at walking pace, the vehicle advanced between the fixed bayonets of soldiers and sailors lining the street. As it passed they presented arms as if saluting a state funeral. Yet nobody had died. On the back of Land Rover, cushioned in velvet and shielded, like the Pope, by a sheet of perspex, lay only a large and grubby white rock. The rock was the Stone of Scone and it was coming home, exactly 700 years had passed after it was stolen. When Edward I of England kidnapped the Stone of Scone in 1296, he knew what he was doing. He had already seized the Crown of Arthur from Wales, another kingdom severed of its legitimacy. The lump of rock, the 'Stone of Destiny' to give it its correct title, was in fact a throne kept at Scone Abbey near Perth on which the Scottish kings of centuries had been seated for their inauguration. Nobody could say with any degree of certainty quite where the Stone came from. It might even have been used by Jacob as a pillow in the desert when he dreamed about that ladder to heaven. All that mattered, as Edward I appreciated, was that the Stone's removal symbolized the end of national identity. Scotland was now a colony. Never again would she stand on her own. Ascherson's use of the history of the Stone of Scone for his evaluation of modern-day Scotland is a brilliant device. Skilfully weaving legend, recorded fact, political comment and personal experience into a subjective yet finely tuned account, Ascherson does for the country of his birth what no one has done since William Wallace. And the English executed him. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Neal Ascherson
Neal Ascherson was born in Edinburgh. He reported from Asia, Africa and Central Europe for the Observer and was Journalist of the year in 1986.