New clues in Da Vinci Code’s Rosslyn Chapel

By Oliver Farrimond

NEW evidence has been unearthed which hints at undiscovered treasure in an iconic Scottish church.

A new Da Vinci Code-style book published by Scottish symbologist Ashley Cowie has brought to light a hidden staircase in Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh.

The 15th century church has been the subject of speculation over its hidden secrets since the publication of the Da Vinci Code, and some believe the chapel even hides the famous Holy Grail.

And in his book “The Rosslyn Templar”, 36-year-old author Cowie has noticed a detail in a painting from 1836 that could lead to more answers.

The pastel painting of a Templar Knight inside the church features a hidden stairwell which is missing from the modern chapel.

The Wick-born symbologist said: “The book systematically examines the carved symbols and designs that some authors point to evidence of Templar symbology within the chapel and reveals them to be common symbols in everyday Christianity.

“While a lot of the Templar symbols in the painting don’t tie up with features within Rosslyn Chapel, the most interesting feature is the stairwell that also doesn’t exist there today.

“It is possible that this stairwell is also the product of artistic license.

“However there is a growing amount of scientific evidence from excavations and scans which seems to point to the existence of these chambers, so there is every possibility that this stairwell did exist and that it was once the entrance to the chambers.”

Although Cowie lacks any qualifications in archaeology or symbology, he has decades of experience hunting for the truth behind Scottish legends and symbols.

A recognised figure on the science festival lecturing circuit, Cowie is also a Knight Officer in the modern Order of the Scottish Knights Templar.

He added: “It would be fair to call me a reformed grail fanatic, but if my research does lead to the discovery of a hidden chamber containing the Holy Grail or a hoard of Templar treasure, I will be claiming finder’s rights.

“The first thing I’ll buy is a fedora hat and a bull-whip, because these things belong to the realms of fiction or what I call the ‘loony fringe’ or Rosslyn research.

See more of our pictures at our Flickr site and videos at our dedicated channel,  Deadline TV.

I used to live near Rosslyn chapel , before the Da Vinci days. It certainly is an amazing and unusual building to walk around , and what lies beneath the chapel is anyones guess. But its probably just an ancient crypt and no need for Indiana Jones ,but you never know until we peek inside.

 The original plans for Rosslyn have never been found or recorded, so it is open to speculation whether or not the chapel was intended to be built in its current layout. Its architecture is considered to be some of the finest in Scotland.

The “Apprentice Pillar”, or “Prentice Pillar”, gets its name from an 18th century legend involving the master mason in charge of the stonework in the chapel and his young apprentice. According to the legend, the master mason did not believe that the apprentice could perform the complicated task of carving the column, without seeing the original which formed the inspiration for the design. The master mason travelled to see the original himself, but upon his return was enraged to find that the upstart apprentice had completed the column anyway. In a fit of jealous anger the mason took up his mallet and struck the apprentice on the head, killing him. As punishment for his crime, the master mason’s face was carved into the opposite corner to forever gaze upon his apprentice’s pillar.[4]

The pillar is also referred to as the “Princes Pillar” in An Account of the Chapel of Roslin (1778). On the architrave joining the pillar, there is the inscription Forte est vinum fortior est rex fortiores sunt mulieres super omnia vincit veritas: “Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are stronger still, but truth conquers all” (1 Esdras, chapters 3 & 4)

Author Henning Klovekorn has proposed that the pillar is representative of one of the roots of the Nordic Yggdrasil tree, prominent in Germanic and Viking Mythology. He is of the opinion that the dragons at the base of the pillar are also found eating away at the base of the Yggdrasil root, and the top of the pillar is carved tree foliage, and argues that the Nordic/Viking association is plausible considering the many auxiliary references in the chapel to Celtic and Nordic mythology.

Among Rosslyn’s many intricate carvings are a sequence of 213 cubes or boxes protruding from pillars and arches with a selection of patterns on them. It is unknown whether these patterns have any particular meaning attached to them — many people have attempted to find information coded into them, but no interpretation has yet proven conclusive.

One recent attempt to make sense of the boxes has been to interpret them as a musical score. The motifs on the boxes somewhat resemble geometric patterns seen in the study of cymatics. The patterns are formed by placing powder upon a flat surface and vibrating the surface at different frequencies. By matching these Chladni patterns with musical notes corresponding to the same frequencies, the father-and-son team of Thomas and Stuart Mitchell produced a tune which Stuart calls the Rosslyn Motet.

Another notable feature of Rosslyn’s architecture is the presence of ‘Green Men‘. These are carvings of human faces with greenery all around them, often growing out of their mouths. They are commonly thought to be a symbol of rebirth or fertility, pre-Christian in origin. In Rosslyn they are found in all areas of the chapel, with one excellent example in the Lady Chapel, between the two middle altars of the east wall. The green men in Rosslyn symbolise the months of the year in progression from East to West in the Chapel. Young faces are seen in the East symbolising Spring and as we progress towards the setting sun in the west the carvings age as in autumn of man’s years. There are in excess of 110 carvings of Green men in and around the Chapel.

In addition to the boxes, there are carvings of what the authors Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight believe could be ears of new world corn or maize in the chapel.[7] This crop was unknown in Europe at the time of the chapel’s construction, and was not cultivated there until several hundred years later. Knight and Lomas view these carvings as evidence supporting the idea that Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, travelled to the Americas well before Columbus. Mediaeval scholars interpret these carvings as stylised depictions of wheat, strawberries or lilies

The Chapel has also acted as a burial place for several generations of the Sinclairs — a crypt was once reachable from a descending stair at the rear of the chapel. This crypt has for many years been sealed shut, which may explain the recurrent legends that it is merely a front to a more extensive subterranean vault containing (variously) the mummified head of Jesus Christ,[9] the Holy Grail,[10] the treasure of the Templars,[11] or the original crown jewels of Scotland.[12] In 1837 when the 2nd Earl of Rosslyn died, his wish was to be buried in the original vault; exhaustive searches over the period of a week were made, but no entrance to the original vault was found and he was buried beside his wife in the Lady Chapel.

The chapel, built 150 years after the dissolution of the Knights Templar, supposedly has many Templar symbols, such as the “Two riders on a single horse” that appear on the Seal of the Knights Templar.


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