|20 September 1456|
|The Revd Dr Joe Roulston|
|Official name: Rosslyn Chapel (Episcopal), formerly Collegiate Church of St Matthew, |
including vaults, burial ground and boundary hills
|Designated||22 January 1971|
Rosslyn Chapel was founded on a small hill above Roslin Glen as a
Sinclair founded the college to celebrate the
It was reported in The Argus of Melbourne, Australia that Rosslyn Chapel was the site of an alleged bombing attempt by a suffragette.
Since the late 1980s, the chapel has been the subject of speculative theories concerning a connection with the
The original plans for Rosslyn have never been found or recorded, so it is open to speculation whether or not the chapel was intended to be built in its current layout. Its architecture is considered to be among the finest in Scotland.
Construction of the chapel began on 20 September 1456, although it has often been recorded as 1446. The confusion over the building date comes from the chapel's receiving its founding charter to build a collegiate chapel in 1446 from Rome. Sinclair did not start to build the chapel until he had built houses for his craftsmen.
Although the original building was to be
The chapel stands on fourteen pillars, which form an arcade of twelve pointed arches on three sides of the nave. At the east end, a fourteenth pillar between the penultimate pair form a three-pillared division between the nave and the Lady chapel. The three pillars at the east end of the chapel are named, from north to south: the Master Pillar, the Journeyman Pillar and, most famously, the Apprentice Pillar. These names for the pillars date from the late
One of the more notable architectural features of the Chapel is the "Apprentice Pillar, or "Prentice Pillar". Originally called the "Prince's Pillar" (in the 1778 document An Account of the Chapel of Roslin) the name morphed over time due to a legend dating from the 18th century, involving the master mason in charge of the stonework in the chapel and his young apprentice mason. According to the legend, the master mason did not believe that the apprentice could perform the complicated task of carving the column without seeing the original which formed the inspiration for the design.
The master mason travelled to see the original himself, but upon his return was enraged to find that the upstart apprentice had completed the column by himself. In a fit of jealous anger, the master mason took his mallet and struck the apprentice on the head, killing him. The legend concludes that as punishment for his crime, the master mason's face was carved into the opposite corner to forever gaze upon his apprentice's pillar.
The author Henning Klovekorn has proposed that the pillar is representative of one of the roots of the Nordic
Among Rosslyn's many intricate carvings are a sequence of 213 cubes or "boxes" protruding from pillars and arches with a selection of patterns on them. It is unknown if these patterns have any particular meaning attached to them. Many people have attempted to find information coded into them, but no interpretation has yet proven conclusive. Unfortunately, many of these 'boxes' are not original, having been replaced in the 19th century after erosion damage.
One recent attempt to make sense of the boxes has been to interpret them as a musical score. The motifs on the boxes somewhat resemble geometric patterns seen in the study of
There are more than 110 carvings of "
Other carvings represent plants, including depictions of wheat, strawberries or lilies. The authors
The chapel has been a burial place for several generations of the Sinclairs; a crypt was once accessible from a descending stair at the rear of the chapel. This crypt has been sealed shut for many years, which may explain the recurrent legends that it is merely a front to a more extensive subterranean vault containing (variously) the mummified head of
In 1837, when the 2nd Earl of Rosslyn died, his wish was to be buried in the original vault. Exhaustive searches over the period of a week were made, but no entrance to the original vault was found and he was buried beside his wife in the Lady Chapel.
The pinnacles on the rooftop have been subject to interest during renovation work in 2010. Nesting jackdaws had made the pinnacles unstable and as such had to be dismantled brick by brick revealing the existence of a chamber specifically made by the stonemasons to harbour bees. The hive, now abandoned, has been sent to local bee keepers to identify.