View Full Version : The Many Mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel

Monday, November 7th, 2005, 07:04 PM
Scotsman.com Thu 20 Jan 2005

Rosslyn Chapel boasts Gothic gargoyles and flying buttresses.
The many mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel


AS A BUILDING, Rosslyn Chapel, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is intriguing. The exterior features Gothic gargoyles and flying buttresses, while inside there are ornate pillars, carvings and an extraordinary ceiling.

As a place of mystery, it is a magnet for those with exotic - some might say outlandish - theories.

Built in the mid-15th century by some of the best stonemasons in Europe, the chiselled scenes and symbols would have been easily understood by their medieval audience but seem baffling to us today.

The most striking example of their craft is the Apprentice Pillar, which is beautifully carved and entwined by stone coils. It symbolises the Tree of Life, with carvings snaking round from the bottom to the top. Supposedly carved by an apprentice, the master stonemason was so enraged when he saw the young man's work that he murdered him. The pillar itself has a number of outlandish theories attached to it.

One theory has it that these coiled spirals look just like our modern-day representation of the double helix of DNA. Isnít it just too coincidental that in the 15th century a young man so carved out the exact form of DNA when hundreds of years later, down the road at the Roslin Institute, Dolly the Sheep would become the worldís first animal to have their DNA cloned? Did that somebody know about DNA back then or did they supernaturally foretell the news?

Beneath the floor of Rosslyn is a massive underground vault. The chamber was sealed in 1690 and has never been reopened. Obviously, there has been a lot of speculation as to what is inside the vault.

The village of Roslin, where the chapel sits, is considered by those who believe in such things to be a "thin place", where the line between our world and other worlds is fuzzy, where the unusual is usual and the impossible is possible.

Roslin, about 20 miles south of the capital, has been part of an odd series of events over the years. A Scottish army of only 8,000 won an unlikely victory over an English army of 30,000 in the 13th century. The hamlet of Bonnybridge, about 35 miles northwest of Roslin, is a leading UFO hot spot, and people there are known to have had success in winning the lottery. And, in Roslin, in 1446 Sir William St Clair decided to build a chapel.

To understand the mysteries surrounding Rosslyn, a quick history of the Knights Templars is required. This order of warrior monks was created in 1118 to protect pilgrims on the way to and from the Holy Land. They were housed in the Temple of Solomon and soon became wealthy despite their vow of poverty. They became so influential that in 1307 Philip of France acted to destroy them. Many were burnt at the stake but some were said to have escaped and found sanctuary in Scotland.

Over the centuries many have hypothesised that the Templars were guardians of a great secret. The Ark of the Covenant or other religious relics have been suggested. According to legend, whatever the Templars knew or found sailed with the survivors of the coup and found its way to Scotland.

Among the contenders are the following:

The One True Cross

The least fanciful theory is that the vaults contain the remnants of the "one true cross" upon which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Templar Treasure

Scotland becomes the headquarters for the Knights Templar (http://heritage.scotsman.com/timelines.cfm?cid=1&id=41752005).

Another vaguely possible theory holds that when the Templar fleet escaped from La Rochelle in Western France they took with them their treasure of gold, silver and jewels. This legendary treasure also suggets a striking explanation for some of the more unlikely carvings. Botanists have confirmed that there are depictions of sweetcorn and cacti in the chapel, South American plants that were unknown in Europe at the time the chapel was built.

Sir William St Clairís grandfather, Sir Henry Sinclair, may have sailed from Orkney to America in 1398, nearly 100 years before Columbus. The reason he sailed? To take the Templar treasure from Rosslyn to the New World, where it could be buried in safety - a place that no-one would think of searching. The sweetcorn? While Sir Henry stayed in Nova Scotia building a treasure pit, some of his shipmates possibly sailed further south and brought back samples of indigenous plants.
The Holy Grail

In 1962 Grail-seeker Trevor Ravenscroft claimed that a lead casket was buried in the Apprentice Pillar. This casket contained the Holy Grail itself Ė the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and used again at the foot of the cross to collect his blood. Buried for years under the Temple of Solomon, it was found when the Templars excavated the area and has been kept hidden ever since. Quite what Ravenscroft used for evidence that it ended up in the pillar has never really been explained. The whole notion of there being a Holy Grail is speculative in itself, never mind trying to prove that itís in a pillar in Rosslyn.
Holy Scrolls

In their book The Hiram Key (1996), Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas claim the pillar contains ancient scrolls that prove Jesus was a mason and the whole Masonic ritual goes back to pre-Christian times. Once again, the theory claims the Templars found this out during excavations. Once again, the evidence is lacking.

The Head of Jesus Christ

Scrolls and cups are all very well, but not nearly as exciting as Dr Keith Laidlerís theory. In his 1998 book The Head of God, Laidler claimed the head that the Knight Templars worshiped (sometimes called Baphomet) was actually of Jesus Christ. He writes that the head was brought out of the Holy Land and removed from France once things got too hot and, yes, hidden in the Apprentice Pillar. As they say, we will believe it when we see it.

The Blood of Jesus Christ

The piece-de-rťsistance of Rosslyn lore is the most startling of all. Rosslynís imagery, the figures, the ceiling, the pillar, the floor, point inescapably to the real secret encoded there. We have had Jesusís blood, Jesusís head and, lo and behold, we also have Jesusís DNA. For the Holy Grail is nothing less than the bloodline of Christ. The child of the child of the child Ö of Jesus Christ and Mary of Magdalene is alive and well and living in Rosslyn.

And before you make a fool of yourself, be warned, Jesusís ancestor is not the lady who runs the teashop round the back.

Related topic

* Rosslyn Chapel

This article: http://heritage.scotsman.com/diagrams.cfm?cid=1&id=39962005&

Friday, August 18th, 2006, 09:23 PM

JUST when you think there can't be anything left to dig up when it comes to secret codes and Rosslyn Chapel, another layer is unearthed. The latest mystery - involving a carving scratched on the wall of the crypt - doesn't involve the Knights Templar, the bloodline of Christ or any ancient secret societies.

But for Ashley Cowie - who has spent the best part of a decade trying to work out its meaning - the carving has huge global significance for Scotland when it comes to the history of ancient navigation.

"What is down there is an example of a lost system for measuring time and distance involving both latitude and longitude. It's a priceless mapping treasure."

This navigational teaching board - if that's what it is - forms the basis of Cowie's new book, The Rosslyn Matrix, which presents his case for Rosslyn Chapel having a cartographic explanation.

At first glance, the mysterious carving looks a bit like a miniature electricity pylon with a latticed construction of uprights and grids. At the top is the outline of a misshapen cup which has a five-pointed star on one of the sides. Inside the cup shape, stacked on top of each other, are four diamond-shaped lozenges of different lengths and widths.

The crypt is part of an older structure on top of which the 15th-century chapel was built. It was used as a workshop during the chapel's construction and the scratching on the south wall seems to have been dismissed as a workman's sketch for one of the roof pinnacles.

"I can say with confidence this carving does not represent a pinnacle, or any three-dimensional church spire design," says Cowie. "This becomes obvious when you unravel the geometric layers."

Which is where he has the edge on most of us. Because where we see an electricity pylon or a badly drawn cup, Cowie sees a multi-layered, geometrically defined, mathematical template.

Perhaps it is easier to establish what Rosslyn is not before trying to explain what it is Ė which is why Cowie devotes the first 40 pages of his book to debunking myths.

"It is not a copy of Solomon's or Herod's Temple. It has no 'Grail Trail' link with a Jerusalem-based meridian, and mathematical analyses of original ground plans show it to be an unfinished collegiate church."

Not a knight in sight.

"I challenge anybody to show me a Templar symbol in there," he says, speaking with the righteousness of the newly converted.

"Yes, I went down all the usual roads and got involved with all the esoteric stuff, Knights Templar included. I've come out the other end with my feet now firmly on terra firma."

A decade and more has passed since his love of local history led to him brushing the dirt off an old crest on a ruined Caithness farmhouse lintel. Researching into the background of what turned out to be the engrailed cross of the St Clairs led to a fascination with the skills of the family of ancient master builders and their craftsmen.

Determined to remain unfazed by the current hype, he examined William St Clair's 15th century Rosslyn Chapel from a practical perspective.

"As Earls of Orkney and Caithness, William and his predecessors learned their navigational skills from their Norwegian overlords who were experienced explorers," Cowie explains.

The carving is what he believes to be the chapel's most enduring legacy. If correct, it must surely make a hugely important contribution to Scottish scientific history.

Getting him to explain its importance in a few short paragraphs is impossible, and the following synopsis will no doubt cause him much anxiety.

The lozenges at the top are ancient symbols showing degrees of latitude. They're based on shadows recorded at solstice sunrises and sunsets producing different shapes at each degree of latitude. Tall, thin lozenges relate to northern places like Norway, which the top lozenge on the carving represents; wide and squat signifies a Mediterranean band, as in the bottom one. The middle two lozenges are the latitudes for Orkney (northern
Scotland) and Rosslyn (southern Scotland).

The pylon-shaped grid is a longitudinal slice of 15 degrees (1/24th of the 360 degree globe) and its vertical central line is an ancient meridian. The cup shape isn't a cup, or grail chalice. It's an astronomical drawing of the orbits traced by the morning and evening star, Venus.

All this was important to ancient navigators for synchronising dates, times and locations.

Cowie has certainly opened up new avenues of approach, and as far as Rosslyn Chapel is concerned they're happy to hear him out.

"It's interesting and refreshing to have a new perspective on Rosslyn," says Stuart Beattie, who oversees fundraising efforts of Rosslyn Chapel Trust.

Whether Cowie's discovery will change the way we think about ancient navigators, or just be swallowed up with all the other mysteries surrounding Rosslyn, only time will tell. But it seems certain that despite years of research this chapel still has a number of secrets left to unravel.

Source (http://heritage.scotsman.com/myths.cfm?id=1191182006)

Gorm the Old
Saturday, August 19th, 2006, 02:27 AM
I can see the relevancy of the diagram as described to determination of latitude. However, until the invention of the Global Positioning System, there has been no way of determining longitude which did not require comparing simultaneously the time in two different places, one of which is of known longitude.

This is why the land masses shown in early maps are distorted. The latitudes are accurate, but the longitudes are, at best, educated guess-work. It was not until the invention of the marine chronometer in the late 18th-early 19th century, which permitted carrying with one the time at one's home port, that accurate determination of longitude at sea became possible.

Whatever the Rosslyn diagram may tell us about early navigation, it does NOT contain a means of determining longitude without a chronometer.