This morning I decided to board one of the Scottish Borders buses in a different direction, towards Edinburgh. After about a one hour journey I got out near Roslin and walked towards the famous Rosslyn Chapel.
Founded in the mid-15th century on a little hill by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness Rosslyn Chapel became even more famous after playing an important part in Dan Brown’s thriller “The DaVinci Code” and the movie with the same name. Is the Holy Grail really hidden at Rosslyn Chapel?
Rosslyn Chapel is privately owned by Peter St Clair-Erskine, 7th Earl of Rosslyn.
After the Scottish Reformation (1560), Catholic worship in the chapel was brought to an end. The Sinclair family continued to be Catholics until the early 18th century. From that time, the chapel was closed to public worship until 1861. It was re-opened as a place of worship according to the rites of the Scottish Episcopal Church, a member church of the Anglican Communion. (Wikipedia)
The original plan was to built a cruciform but it was never completed, today we only see the “head” of the cross.
Only the choir was constructed, with the retro-chapel, otherwise called the Lady chapel, built on the much earlier crypt (Lower Chapel) believed to form part of an earlier castle. The foundations of the unbuilt nave and transepts stretching to a distance of 90 feet were recorded in the 19th century. The decorative carving was executed over a forty-year period. After the founder’s death, construction of the planned nave and transepts was abandoned – either from lack of funds, lack of interest or a change in liturgical fashion. (Wikipedia)
Rosslyn Chapel stands on fourteen pillars with the “Apprentice Pillar” as the most famous one. The stonework in the chapel is masterfully carved and the master mason had planned to carve this pillar himself. But when he arrived at Roslin his apprentice had already finished the pillar. The legend says that the mason was so jealous of the work that he killed the apprentice.
The chapel and the crypt have been a burial place for generations of the Sinclairs, but the crypt had been sealed off for many years and the entrance to the crypt isn´t known any more.
In 1842 the chapel, then in a ruined and overgrown state, was visited by Queen Victoria, who expressed a desire that it should be preserved. Restoration work was carried out in 1862 by David Bryce on behalf of James Alexander, 3rd Earl of Rosslyn. The chapel was re-dedicated on 22 April 1862, and from this time, Sunday services were once again held, now under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Episcopal Church, for the first time in 270 years. (Wikipedia)
In 1995 the Rossyln Chapel Trust was established to oversee its conservation and its opening as a sightseeing destination. Between 1997 and 2013 the chapel was extensively renovated and restored including works on the roof, the windows, heating, the carvings and the organ.
The Holy Grail at Rosslyn Chapel
Speculations of a connection between Rosslyn Chapel and the Knights Templar started in the 1980s and went a little bit wild after Dan Brown’s thriller “The DaVinci Code” & the film of the same name with Tom Hanks in the leading role. Numerous books were published to prove Brown’s fictional theories that the Holy Grail might be stored at the chapel or that the chapel is an important part of the legend.
Many Templar symbols are said to be found in the carvings and members of the Sinclair family were members of the Freemasons.
Whatever the truth may be the legends helped to bring many visitors to Rosslyn Chapel.
Rosslyn Chapel is a wonderful place to visit but also a quite busy one – don´t get fooled by the empty pictures, I was just very patient. I didn´t spend a lot of time inside the chapel, it was just too crowded! It is also forbidden to take pictures inside the chapel.
After my visit, I walked through Roslin back to my bus stop.