This atmospheric and beautiful church is situated just outside the village of Roslin, to the south of Edinburgh. It was built ... More
This atmospheric and beautiful church is situated just outside the village of Roslin, to the south of Edinburgh. It was built around 1446 by William St Clair. It is unique and famed for the beauty of its extraordinarily detailed carvings and its aura of mystery. The carvings refer to both Christian and Pagan rites, including the Green Man, Freemasonry and the Knights Templar. It is the only medieval building still used by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and has been linked to various legends throughout the years. A fascinating exhibition that draws from the Brydon Collection, explores the craft of the Guilds, Templars, Masons, Celts and Gypsies. There's a wonderful shop and a great little cafe on site. Call for details of church services.
Situated seven miles outside of Edinburgh, in a windswept plain in the little town of Roslyn (yes, the town and chapel are spelled differently), at first glance Rosslyn Chapel doesn't look like much, but its treasures are waiting to be discovered inside. First of all, for any connoiseurs of Green Men, congratulations: you've hit the jackpot! The chapel contains over 100 Green Men but you need good strong summer daylight to see them or at the very least, winter sunlight (if you can get it!).
The very polite, politically correct guidebook tells a great deal about the history of the chapel and the Sinclairs, who founded it, but it doesn't go into detail about the Green Men, or the Templars or the chapel's more esoteric history. Still, the guidebook is worth picking up.
As of 2004 and possibly before, there is a tin roof over the chapel, which was disappointing, but it is not a permanent fixture. Indeed, the chapel had undergone some very poor conservation and needs now to dry out, so the tin roof will stay on for a little while longer. I definitely want to go back when the conservation work is complete, and see the chapel in its full glory.
When I was there in summer of 2004, I saw a play about the murdered apprentice in the very chapel itself -- so I have a really wonderful memory. Touching the real Apprentice Pillar is a moment not to be missed. The whole chapel seemed to be brought to life by this Fringe Festival play. With some friends, we walked out of the chapel and looked into the glen, where mist from the river was curling up through the pines, making this little out of the way place mystical, magical and mysterious.
Go -- you won't regret it. Let the chapel speak what it will to you, and see if you can solve some of its enduring mysteries. And if not, enjoy it for what it is: an eclectic, eccentric, personal chapel of an ancient family.
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