Rosslyn Chapel

Scotland's medieval masterpiece is among its most beautiful heritage attractions.

TravelCurious Tip

Rosslyn Chapel remains a working church — pay a visit on Sunday morning for a magical service

Found on the eastern edge of Roslin, seven miles south of Edinburgh, Rosslyn Chapel is a beautiful enigma. Made famous by Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’, the chapel was built in the 15th century for William St Clair, third early of Orkney. It remains privately owned: the current owner is Peter St Clair-Erskine, seventh earl of Roslyn.


The chapel is stunning, and unique. It’s ornate, carved stone interior went against the architectural fashion of the time and has fuelled dozens of conspiracy theories. In addition to the usual flowers, vines and angels, it also contains over a hundred representations of the pagan ‘Green Man’. Among other figures associated with Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, there also appear to be carvings of plants from the Americas — even though the chapel predates Columbus’ voyage.


Such clues have led some to suggest the chapel is a secret Templar repository, and that hidden vaults beneath it could contain the Holy Grail, or even Jesus Christ’s mummified head.


A tall tale

The Apprentice Pillar, one of the three pillars at the east end of the chapel, bears a grisly legend. Supposedly, the master mason of the chapel did not believe his apprentice could carve the pillar without seeing the original which inspired the design. He went to see the original himself, but on his return found that his upstart apprentice had completed the column. Enraged, he clocked the apprentice on the head with his mallet, killing him. As punishment for his crime the master’s face was carved into the opposite corner to look upon his apprentice’s pillar for eternity.


Square dance

Among the intricate carvings is a sequence of 213 protruding cubes with mysterious patterns on them. They have recently been interpreted as a musical score, since the motifs on the boxes slightly resemble the patterns formed when powder is placed on a flat surface that is vibrated at certain frequencies. By matching these carved patterns to the musical notes of the same frequencies, Thomas and Stuart Mitchell produced the tune ‘Rosslyn Motet’.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Edinburgh
George Heriot's School
An outstanding example of Scots Renaissance architecture, now known worldwide as a mecca for Harry Potter fans.
Greyfriars Kirkyard
For over five centuries, Greyfriars Kirkyard has been home to hauntings and wizards. Look out for McGonagall or something more spine-chilling, like one Tom Riddle.
Roslin Castle
A grand semi-ruined castle overlooking the River Esk.
Nicolson's Cafe / Spoon
Claimed to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, Nicolson's Cafe has now been replaced by Spoons.
George Heriot’s School / Hogwarts
Spot as many similarities as you can between George Heriot’s School and Hogwarts!
Craigmillar Castle
One of the most preserved medieval castles in Scotland featuring a tower, a prison and extensive gardens.

Related Tours

Rosslyn Chapel, Melrose & the Borders: Day Trip from Edinburgh
Scotland is a nation renowned for its natural beauty. On this full-day excursion to the Scottish Borders, discover the stunning architecture of Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin Castle, and Melrose Abbey

On your private tour, you will: 

  • Enjoy a scenic drive to Rosslyn (Spelled also Roslin) and hear about the bloody battles and interesting discoveries in the village;
  • Explore the mysterious interiors of Rosslyn Chapel, featured in Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code;
  • Discover the beautiful architecture of Melrose Abbey in the Scottish borders, the final resting place of the heart of Robert the Bruce;
  • See the historic town of Melrose, located next to the Eildon Hills and the birthplace of Rugby Sevens;
  • Stop for a traditional Scottish lunch in Melrose;
  • Visit the spectacular Scott's View, Sir Walter Scott's favourite view in the Scottish Borders, overlooking the valley of the River Tweed;
  • Round your day off at Glenkinchie Distillery, learning and sampling some of Glenkinchie's finest malts.

Your tour will begin your tour with a short scenic drive to Roslin, a small village just 7 miles from Edinburgh. The tiny village of Roslin is home to an amazing legacy of Templar knights, medieval conspiracies, and bloody battles.

Heralded as the eventual reliquary of the Holy Grail, the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel is full of exquisite medieval carvings depicting intriguing biblical, masonic, pagan and Templar themes, not found anywhere in the world. You will also have a chance to visit Roslin Castle, which remains an imposing shadow of its former glory.

You will then head into the heart of the Scottish Borders, to the town of Melrose, an area rich in hills, valleys and rivers – and the birthplace of the game of Rugby Sevens. Home to the lavish Melrose Abbey, founded in 660, you will explore the beautiful architecture and the fascinating lives of the medieval monks who lived and died here. In Melrose, your guide will recommend a spot for enjoying some traditional Scottish fare before you continue your tour. 

After lunch, you will head to Scott’s View, one of the most spectacular vistas of Scotland. Rounding the day to warm your insides, visit the charming Glenkinchie Distillery, one of the few Lowland distilleries left in Scotland. Here you will learn about, and sample some of Glenkinchie's finest malts. 

Enjoy Scotland's treasured lowlands and enjoy the beauty of Scotland's natural landscapes, while marvelling at several of its most world-renown sites. 

Please note:  If your travelling party is larger than 3, please be in touch so we may work with you on a custom booking. Also, consider that children under the age of 8 are not permitted on Glenkinchie Distillery's tours due to health & safety reasons.
The Scottish Borders: Private Day Trip in a London Taxi

Discover the captivating charm and historic intrigue of Scotland’s rich heritage on this private day trip of Craigmillar Castle, Roslyn Chapel, Abbotsford House, and the scenic Scottish Abbeys.

On your private driving day trip, you will:

  • Discover Craigmillar Castle and uncover the secrets of this medieval fortress, known as the ‘other’ Edinburgh Castle;
  • Hear about the connections of the Castle to Mary, Queen of Scots;
  • See Roslyn Chapel and marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship of this 15th-century chapel, famous for its intricate stone carvings and mysterious symbolism;
  • Step into the world of Sir Walter Scott at his beloved home, Abbotsford House;
  • Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Scotland’s Historic Abbeys, including Melrose Abbey, one of the most stunning examples of medieval church architecture found anywhere in the British Isles;
  • Admire the gothic architecture and learn about the monastic life and the abbeys’ roles in Scotland’s turbulent history.
  • Enjoy a scenic shore drive through Berwick-upon-Tweed on the way back to Edinburgh in the comfort of an iconic London cab.

On this immersive tour, you will journey through centuries of Scottish history, visiting iconic sites and uncovering the stories of the people who shaped the nation. From the royal intrigue of Craigmillar Castle to the literary legacy of Abbotsford House, this tour offers a deep dive into Scotland’s rich cultural tapestry.

Stop and marvel at Craigmillar Castle, set against a backdrop of rolling hills, this castle’s grand architecture and past offer a captivating glimpse into medieval life. Hear tales of political intrigue and royal dramas through history. Continue your journey onto Roslyn Chapel, an architectural gem that is renowned for its mysterious carvings and legends where your guide will explain the significance of the chapel’s intricacies and allow you to discover the connections between ancient orders and modern-day mysteries.

After lunch, you will be heading to Abbotsford House, a stunning estate, designed by Sir Walter Scott, showcasing his love for Scottish heritage. Before returning to Edinburgh, your last stop will be the Scottish Abbeys. These historic ruins architecturally stunning and steeped in history. Learn about the monks who once lived here, the abbeys’ roles in religion and politics, and enjoy the peaceful nature of these sacred sites.

Embark on this unforgettable journey through Scotland in a classic London Taxi, where every site tells a story and every corner reveals a piece of history.

x

Guides

Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.

Partners

Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.