Forever Edinburgh: Uncover the mysterious history of Midlothian’s Rosslyn Chapel as it reopens

One of Midlothian’s most mysterious and historic sites has reopened to welcome visitors back to delve in to learning more about the remarkable building and hear its stories.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 7:00 am
The famous Apprentice Pillar, which tells the legend that the Master Mason was allowed to travel overseas for inspiration for how to carve this last pillar but, while he was away, his young apprentice had a dream and saw a vision of how the pillar could look.

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Founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, Rosslyn Chapel took forty years to build and was incomplete when Sir William died.

The beauty of its setting and the mysterious symbolism of its ornate stonework have inspired, attracted and intrigued writers, artists and visitors ever since.

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The Chapel is also known for its musical angels and Green Men

Practically every surface inside and outside the unique building is carved in an outstanding display of craftsmanship, with many carvings depicting Biblical scenes or giving moral messages.

Some of the most striking features include the Chapel’s ceiling, its musical angels, Green Men and the famous Apprentice Pillar, which tells the legend that the Master Mason was allowed to travel overseas for inspiration for how to carve this last pillar but, while he was away, his young apprentice had a dream and saw a vision of how the pillar could look.

When the Master Mason returned, he was said to be furious that his apprentice had completed the work. He struck him with a mallet and killed him; the Master Mason was then put to death for murder. These stonecarving features are included in a free map, given out to all visitors, to help them find 30 highlights inside and outside the building.

The Chapel’s visitor centre tells its long story and includes a gift shop and coffee shop, with magnificent views over Roslin Glen.

Rosslyn Chapel is reopening to welcome back visitors

Rosslyn Chapel came to worldwide prominence when it featured in Dan Brown’s book, the Da Vinci Code and the subsequent film starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, who filmed a variety of scenes on site.

After filming, Tom Hanks said: “Few locations in film are so delightful and few destinations live up to their billing, but Rosslyn Chapel was all one could imagine or hope for.”

Rosslyn Chapel, in Roslin, Midlothian, is now open once again throughout the year and weekly evening visit is being introduced from mid-May to provide another opportunity to enjoy the site.

Ian Gardner, director of Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said: “It’s great to be welcoming visitors back to the Chapel after four months of closure.

“To help ensure the safety of our visitors and colleagues, we are restricting the number of visitors on site and we would ask all everyone to book in advance on our website.

“With this restricted capacity, it’s an amazing chance to enjoy the Chapel without the usual numbers here and as the Trust is a charity, every visit helps our work in conserving Rosslyn Chapel for the future.”

Admission for adults costs £9.50, and for concessions £7.50.

Rosslyn Chapel is privately owned and managed by the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, which is a registered charity.

Income from admissions not only helps to cover the running costs but also supports the long-term conservation of this historic building so that future generations can also appreciate and enjoy it.

The admission charge gives you access to the Chapel, the chance to enjoy a talk at no extra cost and enjoy the visitor centre, including the interpretation, coffee shop and gift shop.

The Evening News is supporting Forever Edinburgh, a joint campaign between the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and VisitScotland. This encourages people to rediscover the city, its stories and places while supporting local businesses, promoting attractions, shops, bars and restaurants as lockdown eases.