I’ll be avoiding most of the speculative ideas that have been attached to the chapel by recent writers, but after a friend visited the site and took these great photos, I thought I’d write a brief history of the chapel, dispelling the ever popular speculation. I myself visited back in 2009 and was amazed by the architecture, and one thing I can clearly remember is the amount of stonemason’s marks you can see as you’re being guided around. Unfortunately no photos are allowed of the interior of the building, but the exterior is indeed quite spectacular enough to show here.
The chapel near Edinburgh, Scotland, was been built in the mid-fifteenth century, started in 1446, by William Sinclair, first Earl of Caithness, and we have William St Clair of Roslin as the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1736-1737, so there is a later connection between the family and the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The ‘Apprentice Pillar’ which has the legend attached of the Master Mason killing his Apprentice in jealousy after the Apprentice carved the elegant and beautiful pillar, was actually once called the Prince’s Pillar, and can be seen in a document dated 1778 entitled An Account of the Chapel of Roslin, so this idea is modern. What can be termed biomorphic imagery can also be seen carved in the interior, with iconography depicting Christian scenes, carving associated with the St Clair family and even a Green Man.
The speculation has had a positive side however; Tom Hanks who played Dan Brown’s lead in the films of the books, donated to the chapel’s restoration.
Photos by Helena Sofia Fernandes Esteves, 2018.