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Tour Rosslyn Chapel Scotland

Tour Rosslyn Chapel Scotland

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel, founded in 1446 by William Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, is situated just South of Edinburgh. It is a popular visitor site and a place of historical, religious and architectural interest. Historically, the chapel is the subject of much controversy. Some historians believe that the chapel had strong links in the past with the Knights Templar. Many theories have been proposed as to the supposed existence of religious relics - some believe this includes the Holy Grail - hidden within an underground vault beneath the floor of the chapel.

The most recent theory is the most astonishing - that the chapel has buried beneath it is the mummified head of Christ, which was worshiped by the Knights Templar hundreds of years ago. The trustees of the chapel are under constant pressure to carry out excavations to find out whether there is any truth in any of the many theories about it's mysterious past.

Architecturally, Rosslyn is interesting for several different reasons. The interior of the chapel is unusually ornate for a Scottish church and is unique amongst it's contemporaries. Scottish religious buildings of the time were characteristically very plain in design, and although Rosslyn is essentially a Gothic building, it's fanciful decoration and exotic - some would say eccentric - ornament make it stand apart from all the others. There is evidence to suggest that many foreign craftsmen were employed in it's construction, which would account in part for some of the decorative elements that are in evidence in the building.

One piece of particular merit within the chapel is a very ornate and beautifully carved pillar known as the Apprentice or Prentice pillar. The Apprentice pillar has a story of it's own to tell. The story goes that when the chapel was being constructed a stone mason was requested to carve this pillar in the style of a particular column in Rome. The mason was finding it difficult to reproduce the desired effect using the picture he had of the column as his only inspiration. To prepare himself adequately for the task, he decided to travel to Rome to see the original column for himself.

A journey of this sort was quite an undertaking in those days, and the mason was away for some weeks. In the absence of his master, the stonemason's apprentice, who had been left behind, decided to try to carve the pillar himself. He studied the picture that his master had been given and set to work. When the stone mason returned from Italy, he found that the work his apprentice had done was far superior to anything that he might have been able to carve himself. In a fit of rage and jealousy, he killed his apprentice on the spot.

The story of the murder is given credence by the fact there had to be a delay between the construction of the chapel and its eventual consecration, which took place only after an Act of Reconciliation had been sought from the Archbishop of St Andrews. The ghostly apprentice returned to haunt the chapel and the work of which he was so proud. His mournful figure has been seen standing beside his pillar and the sound of his weeping has been heard by many people who have visited the chapel over the years. Another ghostly figure that frequents the chapel and it's surroundings is the figure of a monk clad in grey. He has appeared to visitors on quite a few occasions, both inside and outside the chapel.

"At the South East angle of the chapel is a wreathed column, popularly called the apprentice's pillar. A silly story is told respecting this: that the master mason having received a model of a column from abroad, of a very unusual form and character, thought it necessary to inspect the original before he would execute one after the design; during his absence his apprentice finished the pillar, which was much admired. The master on his return heard many praises bestowed on his boy, and in a fit of envious indignation killed him with a hammer. Two heads in this part of the chapel are also said to represent the master and the apprentice. One having a scar or indentation on the forehead, and the other being marked as an old man frowning, and of savage aspect."

John Britton, 1771-1857.

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