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Modern Scotland

Gallery: Churches of Midlothian

by Peter Kessler, 23 October 2010

Midlothian Part 1: Rosslyn Chapel

Roslin Chapel, Midlothian

Rosslyn Chapel (or Roslin Chapel) is on the southern side of Chapel Loan, immediately east of the village of Roslin, and just eleven kilometres (seven miles) from Edinburgh. Founded as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew in the fifteenth century, it was intended to be one of over thirty-seven collegiate churches to be built during the reigns of James I and James IV between 1406-1513. The chapel is actually the choir of what was intended to be a much larger, cross-shaped church.

Roslin Chapel, Midlothian

The chapel, which is twenty-one metres (yards) long, was founded by Sir William Sinclair of the St Clair family, Scottish nobles from Orkney who were descended from Norman knights and, according to legend, linked to the Knights Templar. The chapel's foundation stone was laid on St Matthew's Day, 21 September 1446. After Sir William died in 1484, the larger building that he had planned was never completed. Instead he was buried in the foundation of his unfinished chapel.

Roslin Chapel, Midlothian

The chapel fell out of use during the Reformation. By 1592 the altars had been smashed and the building began to decay. Cromwell's troops used it as a stable, and it was not until 1736 that steps were taken to halt the decay. Extensive repairs started in 1861, saving the chapel for the Scottish Episcopal Church. More recently, it has become famous for its supposed links to the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, and the Freemasons, thanks to the 2006 film, The Da Vinci Code.

Two photos on this page contributed by Louise Blake-Jeeves.

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