This week we took a wee “bus adventure” this week. We had to take our car in for the annual service so we would either be walking for the day, have someone take us places, or ride the bus. The bus system in Edinburgh is truly amazing. One can go most anywhere in the city on a bus and the longest wait during the day is only about 12 minutes. At night it could be a 20-30 wait. Most buses in the city are the double-decker kind and riding upstairs gives one a great view of things. We decided on a wee bus adventure for the day so we dropped off the car for service and then caught the bus to downtown. Once there, we caught another bus to go see the Rosslyn Chapel. This was a bus ride out to a small village outside of Edinburgh – Roslin.
This is Princes Street in Downtown Edinburgh. This section of town is restricted to buses, taxi, and the tram...no cars. During the busy time of day I have seen as many as 10-12 buses along this section of town.
The Rosslyn Chapel has been owned by the Rosslyn family since 1446. Sir William St. Clair started the chapel but died in 1484 before it was finished. It took 40 years to finish. William wanted to show his thankfulness to God so he decided to build the chapel and he wanted it to be built “…with greater glory and splendor…” The Rosslyn family were devout Catholics and the chapel was to be in the shape of the crucifix with a tower in the center. When William died, much of the chapel had not been finished. The foundation had been outlined for the full size but his son Oliver didn’t see the need to spend the family fortune on the church so he finished the main room (it is marvelous workmanship) but did not finish the chapel according to his father’s plans. He cut off the main extension of the building, thereby eliminating the shape of the cross.
Here is a picture from the air showing the chapel. The wings were part of the original structure and one can see the small extension that was added later by the son Oliver. The original plan would have extended down towards the trees.
Later in the 18th century an organ loft and baptistery were added. It is obvious what section was added as the stone is much newer J It is only 300 years old instead of 700 years old.
Exterior of Chapel
After we left the Chapel we walked down to the Rosslyn Castle ruins. Not much remaining other than the bridge over a deep ravine.
Because this is a "working church" we were unable to take pictures on the inside so I have taken many of these from a book we purchased at the visitor center
One interesting story about the interior of the chapel deals with two beautiful columns and the carving detail by stone masons.
There was a master stone carver who carved this column.
Column carved by the Master Stone Mason
The legend is that the master stone carver finished the first column. Sir William liked it but he was interested in having it more like the designs he had seen in Rome. The master carver went to Rome to see the carvings first hand. While he was gone (apparently quite a long time) his apprentice had a dream that he had carved the second column. St William took this as a sign from God and set the apprentice to work. He finished the column before the master returned. Upon his return, he was very upset and envious that the second column had been finished and was more beautiful than his column. Asking who had carved the column, he was told his apprentice had carved it. The master flew into a rage and hit the apprentice on the head with his mallet which killed him instantly. The Master Carver was punished for his deed by being hung.
This is the column carved by the Apprentice.
The interior of the chapel is truly a magnificent piece of art. The chapel was originally a Catholic Chapel and there was considerable fighting over this during the Reformation. John Knox was involved in the fighting. At some point the family let the Chapel go into disrepair and it sat vacant for 270 years...(so one can see how old this building really is). In the early 1900s, Queen Victoria visited Scotland and went to the Chapel. She felt that it was a treasure that should be preserved for historical purposes. Once the Queen took notice of the Chapel, the family decided they should do something to restore it to its original beauty.
This is a picture of the ceiling.
This is still a working chapel today...however, now it is used by the Church of Scotland.
The walk down to the Castle.
Remaining wall of the Castle