Rosslyn Chapel Mystery
It is where the modern Knights Templar and the Freemasons meet, where researchers
pour over every carving and niche, and where tourists flock to stand in awe before this
extraordinary Gothic building. A few miles south of the city of Edinburgh, and half a mile from the small
village of Roslin, Rosslyn Chapel, built in the second half of the 15th century, maintains its age-old
What is it that brings so many people to this out-of-the-way chapel? Not only is
Rosslyn Chapel (or, to give it its official title, the Collegiate Church of St Matthew) a stunning example of late
medieval architecture and the stonemason's art, but it contains many clues that it is more than just a place of
worship - and even that it was never intended to be simply a Christian church...
Topping a ridge above the ancient woodland of Roslin Glen and the valley of the Esk,
the chapel itself is believed to be only the first stage of a much greater project, as the side chapel of a
larger church. In the event, whether by accident or design, only the chapel itself was ever completed.
This small building has the capacity to inspire jaw-dropping awe. Its architecture
is unique. Although essentially Gothic, it reveals influences not only of its native land, but also -
thought-provokingly - of far-flung and often (then) exotic countries, such as France, Spain and Italy. The clear
influence of southern French and northern Spanish architecture suggests - although it is not known where the
vast workforce required for such a project came from - that at least some them originated from around the
Pyrenees. The mixture of styles suggests that the workforce was drawn from a much wider area.
Like all Gothic structures, the chapel was constructed according to the rules and
practices of sacred geometry, fusing the arcane and occult with Christian and biblical imagery. But it is the
mass of stone carvings that adorn virtually every square inch of the interior that holds such sway over the
imagination of visitors and compels so many to return time and time again to marvel at the building. Not only
are there the expected scenes from the Old and New Testaments, but images and symbols drawn from pagan Celtic,
Norse - and even Islamic - cultures, revealing evidence of distant journeys - unimaginable to the vast majority
of the British of the day - in strange and exotic lands. Many of the images depict plants and herbs: some even
see evidence of South American flora, although the symbolism of many of the images still defies analysis.