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About Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel in the tranquil village of Roslin, Midlothian, is a richly decorated Gothic chapel steeped in intrigue and mystery. The Hollywood movie "The Da Vinci Code" starring Tom Hanks was partly filmed at Rosslyn Chapel as it played a key part in the plots storyline. Although it was built some 150 years after the dissolution of the Knights Templar it is believed that many of the ornate decorations, such as the two men riding a single horse, are Templar Symbols. It is also believed that there are secret and hidden chambres below the chapel.
Work started on building Rosslyn Chapel in 1456 with only the choir, Lady Chapel and part of the transepts being completed of what was planned to be collegiate church - the founding charter being granted, for the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, by Rome in 1446. It was designed by William Sinclair the 1st Earl of Caithness and it is believed that, following his death (estimated to be around 1484 - 1491) his son completed the roof and then all work on the building ceased.
Of all the decorations the most well known is the Apprentice Pillar or "Princes Pillar" at the south-eastern corner of the Lady Chapel. The pillar, named after a local legend, is pictured to the right you can click the photograph thumbnail to view a larger, clearer, version.
In 1774 Bishop Robert Forbes published a guide to the chapel and explained that a model of the Apprentice Pillar had been sent from Rome or another foreign place The master mason set off there so that he could examine the original in detail before starting work upon it. While he was away an apprentice finished the pillar. When the master mason returned and saw the "pillar so exquisitely finished he enquired who had done it and being stung with envy, slew the apprentice". It is also said that a tiny head of a man with a wound to his forehead, set at the apex of the ceiling at the north-wn corner of the chapel, is of the apprentice and that the head opposite is that of his murdering master.
Sadly the mention in 1774 is the earliest appearance of the legend and it does not appear in any earlier documents including those of the St Clair family meticulously transcribed by Father Richard Augustine Hay towards the end of the 17th Century. It is also of great interest that Father Richard fails to make any mention of the medieval Order of Knight Templar or of the more recent Freemasons believed to be based and assosciated with the Knights Templar.
Furthermore it is strange that a rather similar legend exists at seton Collegiate Church which is less than 9 miles away from Rosslyn Chapel. In fact there are many legends that appear of murdered apprentices and that are associated with religous buildings such as Gloucester Cathederal in England and Roen Cathederal. The legend is also not limited to christianity with similar legends associated with the Great Mosque of Damascus and the Mosque of Damietta.
Rosslyn Chapel Links
The official site for Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin