Alex has done extensive research on the Rosslyn Chapel. Here is a summary of her findings.
Rosslyn Chapel is the final part of Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon’s journey and the place where Sophie will learn the truth about her family… although not the truth about the Holy Grail.
Although often connected in popular legend to the Knights Templar, Rosslyn Chapel was actually founded by Sir William St Clair, Earl of Rosslyn, in the 15th century at a time when the Templar Order had not existed for over a hundred years, although there were still small groups who saw themselves as inheritors of Templar wisdom and rituals.
The St Clair family did, however, have connections with the guild of masons – prior to the founding of the Order of Freemasons – and for a time during the early 17th century the current William St Clair (it seems that all the St Clair heirs were named William) was a kind of ‘protector’ of the local masonic branch. Extant documents show that his son, who was a rather more respectable character than his father, was formally designated an official patron of the masons. When the Order of Freemasons was founded, the St Clairs of Rosslyn were among the earlier members.
Simon Cox points out in Cracking the Da Vinci Code that members of the St Clair family had actually testified against the Knights Templar when some of its members were tried at Holyrood in Edinburgh in 1309. (One notes that this piece of information contradicts the claim that no Knights Templar were persecuted in Britain.)
Rosslyn Chapel is only about eight miles from Edinburgh in the village of Roslin in Lothian, where most of the inhabitants are so used to its just ‘being there’ that they have little curiosity about it, despite the fact that a reward has long been available to anyone able to decipher the large number of its symbols that remain shrouded in mystery. Weekly services continue to be held in the church, which is actually named Rosslyn Collegiate Church.
For those who enjoy collecting extraneous pieces of information, Dolly the sheep was cloned at the Roslin Institute.
Cox and Newman, among others, point out that the name ‘Rosslyn’ does not come from ‘Rose Line’ as reported in The Da Vinci Code, but from the Scottish words ‘ross’, meaning a hill or rocky excrescence, and ‘lynn’ meaning water or waterfall, both of which aptly describe Rosslyn’s situation.
There is indeed an underground chamber, a crypt, under Roslynn Chapel, where members of the St Claire family were buried over the centuries. The entrance to the crypt is well-known. It is beneath the flagstones of the north aisle of the chapel, but to this point excavations have not been allowed. There is no real evidence that the crypt contains documentary or any other kind of treasure, and the owners fear that the church – which has been neglected over many centuries – would suffer irreversible damage were it to be undermined.
The entire church is covered in carvings, and people sometimes express surprise that so little work has been done on deciphering the huge number of signs, symbols and carvings at Rosslyn Chapel, but this kind of work usually takes years, especially since many cryptographers work at unravelling such esoteric mysteries only in their spare time. Cox points out that cryptographers have been studying the Rosslyn symbols for a relatively short time.
People who have visited Rosslyn to make their own explorations have reported that they have been unable to find the pentacle on the floor of the chapel described by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code. Once again, one is reminded that The Da Vinci Code is a novel, not a work of non-fiction, and a novelist may embroider where he chooses.
In January 2003, the district branch of the Scottish Knights Templar announced that they would be using new scanning technology at Rosslyn Chapel that was capable of taking readings to a deep underground level. These readings would presumably indicate whether there were any crypts or vaults in addition to the burial crypt of the St Clair family which is already known, although not accessible today. There does not appear to have been any further news on this matter.
The Scottish Knights Templar are not an actual continuation of the Order of the Knights Templar which was destroyed in the early 14th century as a result of the persecutions of Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V, but see themselves as philosophically linked to the original Knights Templar and dedicated to perpetuating their ethic.
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