Midlothian Travel Guide

  • The cript in Rosslyn Chapel
    The cript in Rosslyn Chapel
    by Drever
  • Inside Rosslyn Chapel
    Inside Rosslyn Chapel
    by Drever
  • Inside Rosslyn Chapel
    Inside Rosslyn Chapel
    by Drever
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    by Drever Updated Feb 21, 2014

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    Rosslyn Chapel has found fame as the possible resting-place of the Holy Grail since Dan Brown published the Da Vinci Code.

    Even before its recent fame, it has been a Mecca for those interested in the mysteries of life. The exquisite carvings portray scenes found only in this 15th century chapels. They contain images relevant to biblical, masonic, pagan and Knights Templar themes. For instance the "Two riders on a single horse" that also appears on the Seal of the Knights Templar. The layout of the chapel echoes the layout of the Temple of Solomon.

    William Sinclair 3rd Earl of Orkney, Baron of Roslin and 1st Earl of Caithness, who claimed to be a hereditary Grand Master of the Scottish Freemasons, built this Chapel in 1446 as part of an intended bigger building. He lies buried here.

    Henry Sinclair I, Earl of Orkney, the story goes left the Orkneys in early April 1397 with 12 ships and crossed the wide ocean to what is now Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Most of the ships then returned to Orkney; but two remained in the New World, journeyed on to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and returned the next year. As an Orkney man myself I am apt to say – ‘Well why not, it’s possible’. Pity he hadn’t announced that he had discovered ‘The New Orkneys’!

    Part of the evidence for his journeys is carvings of what seems like ears of new world corn unknown in Europe until several hundred years later.

    Another notable feature of Rosslyn's architecture is the presence of 'Green Men'. These are carvings of human faces with greenery all around them and often growing out of their mouths. They are a symbol of rebirth or fertility, pre-Christian in origin. These symbolise the months of the year. Young faces symbolise Spring and the carvings age as in the Autumn of man's years. There are over 110 carvings of Green men in and around the Chapel.

    Among Rosslyn's many intricate carvings are a sequence of 213 cubes protruding from pillars and arches with a selection of patterns on them. Recently the father-and-son team of Thomas and Stuart Mitchell interpreted them as a musical score they called the Rosslyn Motet.

    The Apprentice Pillar is one of the most famous parts of the chapel. A model of this pillar, the story goes, arrived from Rome. The master mason on seeing its complexity consented to work on such a pillar, only if he could go to Rome to inspect the original. In his absence an Apprentice finished the Pillar. The mason on his return, seeing the pillar so exquisitely finished livid with jealousy slew the apprentice.

    A sealed crypt exists towards the rear of the chapel. This may explain the legends that it leads to an extensive subterranean vault containing the mummified head of Jesus Christ, the Holy Grail, the treasure of the Templars, or the original crown jewels of Scotland.

    Whatever is the truth Rosslyn Chapel as a place of mystery and conjectures will continue to continue to be made as to its secrets.

    The Apprentice's Pillar Inside Rosslyn Chapel Inside Rosslyn Chapel The cript in Rosslyn Chapel
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel

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