6/18/2019 4 Comments
Scotland 2019; Day 2
Wednesday began our first full day in Scotland. As you'll see from the photos, the day was a bit dreicht, but the rain was rather misty, and only intermittent.
I did, however, learn my brown shoes are not waterproof.
We had several choices on how to spend our day, and 5 of us chose to grab a taxi and head to Roslin and visit the chapel.
I couldn't have made a better choice. Not only is the stonework utterly amazing, but I learned that everything--EVERYTHING--has a meaning.
If you go, be sure to listen to the information talks from the guides, which occur every hour or so during the day.
Rosslyn Chapel sits in the town of Roslin, Scotland, and no one seems to know why the spellings don't match.
Building began in 1446 by Sir William St. Clair, and was intended to be a much larger chapel. It took 40 years to create the building we see today, and if I had photos of the interior (which aren't allowed), perhaps you'd see why it took so long to build. If you'd like to see a few, click here: https://www.rosslynchapel.com/visit/things-to-do/explore-the-carvings/)
When Sir William died, progress on the chapel ceased, and with the Reformation, the building fell into disuse and disrepair and was heavily damaged in 1592. Restoration began in 1861. The foundation walls indicate the chapel, had Sir William's heirs chosen to continue his project, would have rivaled the size of a small cathedral.
So, what's so intriguing about the interior of Rosslyn Chapel?
To begin with, the carvings are exquisite. Even if you look no further, you'll see carvings that seem to defy the era in which they were created. The profusion of carvings is almost overwhelming, and most remain in good repair.
But if you dig deeper...
To whet your appetite, here are 4 things you will see inside Rosslyn Chapel. The photos aren't mine, and I've given credit as I found it.
1. The Apprentice Pillar. Of all the beautiful columns in Rosslyn Chapel, this is the only one with carving on the post itself. It sits in a spot of honor at the front of the chapel, and legend says this was the last pillar carved, reserved for the craft of the master stone mason himself. The master set out to gain inspiration for this task, touring Italy and other places. Whilst he was away, an apprentice claimed he received a vision for the pillar, and began carving the stone. He created quite a masterpiece, far beyond what his experience would credit, and the masons placed the pillar in its place of honor and awaited the master's return. The master was hugely impressed, however, rage and jealousy overtook him, and he struck the apprentice, killing him instantly. If you glance behind you as you gaze at this amazing carved pillar, you'll see the carving of a young man's head with what appears to be an injury at its temple. Next to him is the carving of a woman's head (rumored to represent the apprentice's mother), grieving for the death of the apprentice. On the opposite corner is the carving of a man's head--the master who paid for the crime of killing the apprentice with his own death. His carving is placed so that he will view the apprentice's pillar throughout eternity.
2. Carved musical cubes. There are angels playing musical instruments in one part of the chapel, along with 213 cubes with puzzling carvings etched in them. A musician and his son who was an ex-code breaker, spent 27 years looking for the meaning of these cubes. They discovered the patterns on the cubes correspond to the patterns created on water or sand when a specific note is played. This is called the Chladni pitch, which is a phenomenon discovered (re-discovered?) about 200 years after these cubes were carved.
3. The Nativity. On this single hanging boss is the 8-point Star of Bethlehem, the Virgin Mary and child, the manger, the three wise men, and three shepherds.
4. Carvings of Maize or Indian Corn surrounding a window. These carvings look exactly like cobs of corn, however, the carvings predate Christopher Columbus' journey to America, and corn is indigenous to the Americas. If the carving truly is maize, it may support the idea that Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, sailed to Greenland and the Americas almost a hundred years before Columbus.
5. No photo of this one, but worth mentioning. A carving of the seven Heavenly Virtues, with a carving of the seven Deadly Sins on the reverse. Interestingly enough, we find Greed depicted among the virtues, and Charity among the sins. Did the stone mason make a mistake? Or was this intentional to show that evil can be found among goodness, and goodness can be found among evil?
I hope you've enjoyed exploring Rosslyn Chapel with me. Rest assured, there are numerous aspects of this chapel I haven't touched on which you simply have to see and experience for yourself. Don't pass up an opportunity to visit.
6/18/2019 03:08:36 pm
Wow!!! Just wow!!! I loved seeing and learning about Rosslyn Chapel, Cathy. What a treat you were able to see it firsthand!!
6/18/2019 03:49:11 pm
Rosslyn Chapel is just amazing, Lane! I could have stayed far longer than the hour and a half we'd allotted, but I'm more into history than my travel friends, lol! And we had an afternoon of shopping and a fiddle lesson to get back to Edinburg for. That's tomorrow's post. See you there!
6/19/2019 08:31:42 am
WOW! Thanks for sharing these spectacular photos, Cathy, along with the historical bits about the meaning of the carvings. Did anything feel spooky to you while you wandered the chapel? PLEASE say yes.
6/19/2019 08:58:36 am
Cate, these tidbits about the carvings scarcely scratched the surface. Tales of the Templar Knights, Freemasons, and more--including buried treasure--abound. I'm not certain if 'spooky' is the right word, but I certainly felt rather insignificant and surrounded by things with very deep histories.
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