There is a place seven miles outside of Edinburgh surrounded by myths and legends. Rosslyn Chapel was a major inspiration for the famous novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and Rosslyn Chapel was the location of its finale. However, the fictional hidden mysteries of Christianity are not the only point of the chapel’s allure: the location has been the focal point of many myths, legends and magic for centuries.
A brief history of Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel was designed and started being built in 1446 by Sir William St Clair. However, St Clair died in 1484, leaving his son to finish his design. While he roofed the choir with its stone vault, St Clair Jr never completed his father’s wishes. Over the years, Rosslyn Chapel faced a lot of turbulent conditions with battles happening and harsh weather conditions, until it was repaired in the Victorian Era. Now, the chapel is still undergoing a major conservation project to maximise the structure’s longevity.
The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code spoke of Rosslyn Chapel: “When I decided to write The Da Vinci Code, I knew that its finale would have to take place at the most mysterious and magical chapel on earth — Rosslyn.”
Rosslyn Chapel has become a world-renowned attraction since The Da Vinci Code came out selling 81 million copies, attracting seas of tourists to its grounds since 2003. When the film was made in 2006 starring Tom Hanks, which then impacted the visitor number even more. The story tells a tale of a murder investigation at the Louvre, which then leads to uncovering a series of mysteries from old secrets surrounding Christianity.
The myths and legends of Rosslyn Chapel
Firstly, it is believed twenty of Roslin’s barons are buried inside vaults within the chapel. The vaults would have been sealed long ago, and nobody knows where the entrance is. While it’s impossible to know this for sure nor how many people were buried there, the experts cannot truly verify the vault’s contents, nor the number of barons. While all of this was up for speculation for centuries, after The Da Vinci Code came out, you can already imagine how many conspiracy theories went kind of wild claiming The Knights Templar myths surrounding the Holy Grail and Jesus.
Another strange wee thing that caught our eye is some of the carvings on the chapel’s walls. When you stop at the top of the stairs to The Crypt, look to the right. There you will see a carving that looks like maize. Sounds pretty ordinary, right? Well, Rosslyn Chapel was built before Christopher Columbus who brought maize back to Europe. While the St Clair family could have voyaged to North America themselves, no one knows what happened there for sure.
To lead further from the maize carving, next on the path follows The Crypt, the oldest part of the church that was used as a workshop while Rosslyn Chapel was being built. There is another strange carving on its walls, firstly believed to be the template for the roof pinnacles. However, it does not match the structure at all.
Some experts say the carving is actually a Viking sea chart. As the St Clair family were Viking descendants, this makes more sense. As the Vikings were known for their impeccable ability to navigate the seas, they discovered North America before Columbus ever did. Hence, the maize carving could have been the direct result of the Norse discoveries as the existing maps perfectly match the carving in The Crypt.
There are many more mysterious carvings within the chapel from actual music to the murder of the apprentice, from the green man and the pagan gods carvings to theories of aliens. I could be sitting here writing all night, but it looks like you’ll have to go see it for yourselves.