17 December 2014

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin, just outside of Edinburgh, is one of the finest examples of carved stonework in the United Kingdom. However I have no pictures of it because the rather greedy Sinclair family charges an 11 GBP entrance fee but doesn't allow pictures inside so that you buy their picture DVDs in the gift shop.

It's still absolutely worth the visit though. L and I went on a day tour our of Edinburgh visiting Rosslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey (up next!) and a Scotch distillery. I also have no pictures of the distillery because apparently picture taking could cause an explosion. *crickets* I still wonder if that's true or if it's like 'your battery powered electronics will interfere with airplane instruments; which even airlines now admit was a bunch of hokum.

Anyway, Rosslyn Chapel has a pretty interesting history. Built in the 15th Century as, of course a Catholic church, it was supposed to be much larger than it is now. However the Sinclair patriarch who commissioned the church died mid construction and his sin, not so gung-ho about the project, halted construction where it was and fairly literally just slapped a wall on the open end.

The stonework inside is done, I think our guide said, in limestone which is very soft and easy to carve but it also means that the centuries have done their best to eradicate the finer details of many of the carvings. Those that remain though are beautiful. Pillars are topped with angels playing instruments, including one playing bagpipes, and there are over 110 'green men', faces with vines and leaves growing out of the mouth and around the head, all around the chapel.

The chapel was closed in 1560 during the Scottish Reformation though the Sinclair family remained Catholic until they caved in 1861, converted to Church of Scotland, and reopened the chapel for worship. Since then rumor and fame of all sorts have touched the church. The Holy Grail, among other relics, is rumored to be in the crypt below the church which hasn't been opened since the 19th century. The chapel is also featured in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code which is really what made tourists come in droves. Historian Louise Yeoman apparently criticized the Sinclairs for cashing in on the popularity of the book/movie and I gotta agree with her as, prior to the movie's release and popularity, video and photography were not forbidden.

The church also has a giant cat which is friendly as can be; which they have also commercialized. You can buy all sorts of things in the gift shop made with his image.

Nearby are the remains of the Roslin Castle. We didn't have a lot of time before our bus departed so we hurried there, snapped a few pictures, then scurried back to the bus. While it didn't look overly impressive from our view on the bridge by which one accesses the castle; I believe the ruins actually go down several stories and part of the remains have been refurbished into a guest house.  Originally built sometime in the late 14th Century, the castle was a working castle meant to hold off the British. And that's worked out really well.

Roslin Castle

We left Roslin for Melrose which gets its own post soon, and on the way to the explodable distillery we stopped to take in the view at an area called Scott's View. Evidently this was a favorite viewpoint of one of Scotland's favorite sons; Sir Walter Scott. It is a rather lovely view.

Scott's View

No comments: