Friday, February 21, 2014

The Secrets of Rosslyn Chapel

Last Sunday we made another day trip, this time out to the village of Roslin on the outskirts of Edinburgh to see Rosslyn Chapel. You may recognise the name if you've read The Da Vinci Code or seen the movie. Like the movie, there is a secret vault beneath the chapel, however unlike the movie, it is completely unaccessible. During the Protestant Reformation, the chapel, which was Catholic,  was deconsecrated and remained unused. Rather than convert it over to use as an Anglican chapel, the St. Clairs, the owners and builders of the chapel, decided to seal up the vaults beneath which held their ancestors.

Since then, the St. Clairs have not allowed the vaults to be unsealed nor have they allowed any intrusive experiments or archeology to be done. They feel, apparently, that their ancestors should rest in peace.

This of course has given rise to all sorts of stories about what lies beneath Rosslyn Chapel, and some of them which the docent told us about are: the scions of the St. Clair family; a dozen Knights Templar in full armour; a piece of the true cross; the Holy Grail; The Ark of the Covenant; the Holy Rood of Scotland (the Stone of Scone); aliens; and Elvis.

Unfortunately they will not allow photos to be taken inside the chapel (suspicious, no?) so I only have images from the outside. Both the inside and outside are highly decorated in stonework. The building was made from sandstone, so much of the sculpture has deteriorated over time, especially on the exterior, often making it difficult to determine what the figure was intended to be. The chapel was restored during the Victorian Era, and restoration and preservation has been an ongoing task.

Not far away from Rosslyn Chapel is Rosslyn Castle, a partially ruined castle. The non-ruined portion is let out as holiday accommodation and is fenced off, making it difficult to photograph the castle well. The views from both the chapel and the castle are outstanding and these sites definitely worth the bus ride from Edinburgh (~30 minutes).  Incidentally, Roslin, the village which grew up around the chapel, is also home to the Roslin Institute, the biological research centre where Dolly the sheep was cloned.

And here are the photos:

Approaching the chapel grounds
On the right is the Original Rosslyn Inn dating to 1666 while ahead is the chapel visitors' centre

Rosslyn Chapel

Another view of the chapel

Walking down to the castle

Something lurks

Rosslyn Castle

The countryside around Roslin

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