Rosslyn Chapel, founded 1446, is seven miles to the south of Edinburgh and while being a small church, is rather famous as it has featured in a number of novels and films, not least Dan Browns awfully successful (and awful) Da Vinci code. It is supposedly connected to the Knights Templar and best of all its interior is writhing with a huge amount of amazing stone carving. I went there when I lived in Edinburgh and made a few sketches but as I remember my sketching was half-hearted as there was so many interesting elements to choose from and it seemed a bit pointless to sketch such wonders. And then there is the Apprentice pillar, which I didn’t even attempt.
The Apprentice Pillar has attached to it a legend that has not changed in the 300 years since it was written down by the Bishop of Caithness in 1774. The master stone mason had instructions to carve a model of a pillar that was in Rome or some such place. The mason wanted to travel to where the original version was before attempting it. In his absence, his apprentice dreamed that he finished the pillar and when he woke, that’s what he did. On his return the master stonemason, mad jealous (as they say in these parts) and dismayed at the display of talent by his upstart apprentice (a not unfamiliar feeling to the artist in any age), killed the boy with an mallet blow to the head. The stone mason was charged and, it is implied, executed for the crime. The heads of the apprentice, complete with scar, and the mason are carved facing each other elsewhere in the church. The apprentices’ mothers head is there too. Or the carving of her head is.
If you like that sort of thing, is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. Take the number 37 Lothian bus from the city centre.
Source:Rosslyn Chapel, The Earl of Rosslyn, 1996, published by the Rosslyn Chapel Trust.