Visit to Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland

Over the Easter break we were lucky enough to spend a couple of days away in Edinburgh.  Edinburgh is steeped in history and is a lovely place to visit, full of history and Victorian architecture.  A short distance outside of Edinburgh, approximately seven and a half miles away, lies Rosslyn Chapel, a mid 15th century chapel steeped with legends of the Knights Templar, supposed resting place of the Holy Grail and immortalised in the film (and book) The Da Vinci Code.

The chapel was founded by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness of the Scottish-Norman Sinclair family, and to this day is still privately owned by the Sinclair family.  Work on building the chapel began in 1446.  William had the vision of the chapel being a building of ‘curiosity’ and ‘splendour’.  I can certainly say the building stands testament to his vision to this day.  It is now a Scottish Episcopal Church.

On entering the chapel my breath is always taken away by awe and wonder at the beautiful carvings within.  At 69 feet (21 metres) in length and 42 feet (13 metres) in height every surface within the chapel is carved.  All the carvings tell a story, some of the meanings behind the carvings are unknown.

Surrounding one window are carvings of maize or corn, a plant that originates from North America.  This is a curiosity in itself, as Columbus discovered America 50 years AFTER the chapel was built.  There are also 110 carvings of green men around the chapel.

One feature of the chapel is the Apprentice Pillar and the legend associated with it. According to the legend the master mason in charge at Rosslyn, did not believe that his apprentice could carve such a complex column without consulting the original plan which was the inspiration behind the final design of the pillar.  The master, in a fit of jealous rage hit his apprentice on the head with a mallet, killing him outright.  As punishment for his crime the mason’s face is carved into the opposite corner, so that he may gaze upon his apprentice’s pillar for eternity.  There is also a carving of the apprentice’s grieving mother and of the apprentice himself on one wall of the chapel.

On visiting the chapel, it is well worth staying for one of the talks by the chapel curators who highlight some of the more interesting carvings and the stories behind them, as there really is so much to take in.

If you visit and have time, Rosslyn Glen is also a worth a visit.  It is situated to the side of the chapel, down an incline.


Entrance to the chapel taken on an earlier visit below.