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Edinburgh Day 2 - Rosslyn Chapel

Touching Low Hanging Groin Vaulting. 'X' Marks the Spot. Whittling Down the Bucket List

sunny 10 °C

We took the bus 15A at a stop not far from the Scott Monument on Princess St. We bought a Day Pass for £3.50 (the adult single bus fare for Roslyn is £1.50. We may as well buy the Day Pass as we didn't know if we need to take any bus ride later).

Needless to say, like most buses in major cities, you need exact change for your rides. The group of 5 wide eyed young Thai girls had to be turned away. They were inexperienced with the bus service, and didn't carry enough small change.

The bus 15A runs every half hour and took about 45 mins (depending on traffic) to get to the Rosslyn Chapel. Get off at the Original Rosslyn Hotel, and just at the intersection up ahead is a road sign - yes a sign! - that points to the Rosslyn Chapel. Just don't read too much into it.

Without exaggeration, the Rosslyn Chapel is unquestionably the most well known chapel in the Christendom. At least, post The Da Vinci Code.

When you peel off all the thin and transparent layers of entertaining conspiracy theories, fantastic flight of fancy, hearsay, heresy, Dan Brown's profitable artistic license, and overstretched extrapolation, what you left with in the core is a chapel with an impressive showcase of the carving skills of the Medieval artisans. The terms 'exquisite' are used frequently and accurately to depict the huge concentration of carvings in this chapel.

I was impressed. This is high praise from a jaded traveller who's blase about cities of great cathedrals like Paris and Rome. I'm so impressed that it spurs me to make rhyme:

I see London, I see France,
Never a chapel looks so grand !

Anyone who reads all my travel diary entries (really? Thanks!) would grow tired of my talk of travel weariness. It's very unseemly to be this excited. Very unbecoming of me. That's what Rosslyn Chapel is doing to me. Hard to explain really.

Here's one explanation after some self-reflection while watching the tube (TV, not London underground train. I'm no train spotter). I always like cute things. Aye, I could really relate to the Japanese kawaii phenomenon. So desu ne. While it's the Japanese thing, it's spreading globally, thanks to globalisation. Which one do you like more, a dog or a puppy? Puppy, of course! That's the kawaii factor.

The Rosslyn Chapel is the kawaii version of grand Gothic cathedral like Saint Chapelle in the Île de la Cité, for example. It's so cute that I feel like putting it in my backpack and smuggled it home. While most chapels may have this kawaii edge, they tend not to wow you because they can't afford the fancy works. At least, if they're this diminutive size. Chapel is the poor city's cathedral (in ancient Europe, a place is qualified to be called a city when it has a cathedral. Today it's based on population). But there's nothing poor about Rosslyn Chapel. Its richness in carvings actually outshines great many greatest cathedrals of Europe if you ask me. Certainly most if not all the chapels of similar dimension.

Let's look at an example of how the Chapel might outshine even the large cathedrals, the decoration on the ceilings, every section has its own motif. Similarly, every pinnacle that sits on top of the flying buttress is unique. To name just 2 categories of examples. This is very unique among cathedrals, or chapels for that matter. Its variety is bewildering. It's as if the masons and artisans who built this chapel used it as advertisement for their proudest craftsmanship.

While it's tiny in dimension, it has all the structures and trappings of any decent Gothic cathedral: flying buttresses, pinnacles, stained-glass windows, vaulting, etc.

the Lady Chapel is a small chapel within a small chapel. Is it so tiny and yet its ornate ceiling is richly decorated with exquisite pendant bosses hanging down from groin vaulting (keep your mind out the gutter please. We're in a chapel). They hang so low that you can touch it if your arms are long enough (stop it!).


A simpler explanation of my zeal would be that there's a mind/mood altering machine being buried in one of them pillars. Maybe inside the famous - I should say notorious - Apprentice Pillar. Anyone comes close to the machine will be inexplicably drawn to this chapel, making them gaga about the chapel. Dan Brown was probably touched by it (ok, punch drunk by it).

Symbologist is somebody who reads too much into things. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a pillar is just a pillar. No, it's not a launching pad

Read the rest of the article here...

Posted by FrancisQ 07:20 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland edinburgh religion church europe uk worship chapel conspiracy knight rosslyn_chapel masoic free_mason templar Comments (0)

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