Read this Rosslyn Chapel travelogue written by Jayanthi Chandrasekaran. She uncovers the tales of this chapel, located in Scotland.
It is majestic, magical, and mysterious. It has seen riches and ruins, now it is world-renowned. Rosslyn Chapel, built in the 15th century, is the jewel in the Scottish crown. My niece and I made a one-day trip from Edinburgh by tour bus in which the last stop was the famous chapel. My niece, a die-hard fan of Dan Brown couldn’t contain her excitement even as our guide quoted Tom Hanks as a prelude, “Rosslyn Chapel is all one could imagine or hope for”.
Indeed, Rosslyn Chapel is unlike any of the churches I have seen worldwide. Relatively smaller in size compared to other churches, the honey-colored stone exterior, arched windows, and decorative pillars immediately pique the visitors’ curiosity. The interiors offer a carving bonanza; almost all of the surface is sculpted with images of angels, doves, flowers, stars, and symbols. There are around 100 Green Men carvings, which are human faces with vines and foliage sprouting from the mouth representing nature’s growth and fertility.
The most impressive carvings are on the Apprentice pillar but the story told about this pillar isn’t lovely but sad. The master mason went off to travel the world to improve his skillset to create a spectacular pillar. During his absence, the apprentice had finished the column perfectly. Upon his return, the master mason took one look at the pillar, flew into a jealous rage, and killed the apprentice with his mallet. The legend goes that, as a punishment, the master’s face was carved into a parallel pillar to be forever forced to stare at his understudy’s masterpiece. The other stories told in stone include seven deadly sins on one side of an arch and seven virtues on the other side.
ALSO READ: A Little Bit of India Under the Eiffel
Built as a family chapel of catholic order in 1446 by William St Clair, Rosslyn took 40 years to be completed. Following the Scottish Protestant Reformation in the late 16th century, the chapel’s treasures were seized and the St Clair family was forced to give up worship. However, even when catholic iconography was systematically destroyed elsewhere, miraculously, Rosslyn Chapel’s carvings were spared.
After Queen Victoria’s visit in 1842, it regained some glory, and major renovations in the 1990s restored the chapel to its present condition. A second renaissance of sorts was started with the publication of the book The Da Vinci Code in 2003 and the release of the film of the same name in 2006. Since then the number of visitors more than quadrupled (from about 34,000 to 1,76,000 annually). The bewitching atmosphere inside this exquisite chapel fuels amazement due to the intriguing images and symbolism. Holy grail or not, Rosslyn (Chapel) by itself is still beautiful.
ALSO READ: Chambal: The Brown Stud Boy of India