I'LL LET you into a little secret:
Rosslyn Chapel gives me the creeps. Even as a sometime admirer of ecclesiastical architecture, I never liked the place.
This contrasts with most people's experience. They speak of it being uplifting, holy, and meaningful. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
Friends say it is just a natural product of my being the anti-Christ and not to worry about it. But I think there is less to it than that. At the end of the day, it's just a pile of stones with a load of mumbo-jumbo attached to them.
That said, I nearly found myself uplifted there once. I had gone with some paranormal researchers, seers, and astrological outreach facilitators to write an informative and educational article about the place.
Other peculiar people were on the premises, chanting in the Lower Chapel downstairs, and I was asked to stand in a special spot, which one of the mystics had intuitively divined to be a portal to yonder ooter space.
In the cause of truth, I did as I was bid, while the assembled mob stood about focusing their energies. After a few minutes, I was asked: "Do you feel anything?"
"Yes," I replied. "I feel a right berk."
It is easy to project oneself as the sensible cynic in such circumstances, cruelly ripping apart the gossamer dreams of mystical idealists. But what else could I say? Rosslyn Chapel was just a dank, dark place atop a lowland glen in deepest Midlothian.
I did several stories from Rosslyn over the years and once held forth about the subject on Radio 2. Millions of people were listening and I hadn't a scoobie what I was talking about.
But, hey, I didn't get where I am today by bluffing inexpertly. You can call Rosslyn's bluff yourself now that the wraps are off.
The place has been shrouded in scaffolding for the past 15 years, which hints that the building renovators must have fallen through a space-time portal during their tea-break.
Nothing should take 15 years these days. Not in the real world. But Rosslyn has always had one foot in the unreal.
Brief history: built in 1446, it took 40 years to complete, after the builders disappeared for a long mead-break. Rosslyn's founder was William Sinclair, a descendant of Norman knights. Shameful.
Today, the chapel is privately owned, absurdly enough, by the Earl and Countess of Rosslyn, and - even more bizarrely in this day and age - still functions as a church, affiliated to the famously flaky Episcopalians.
Rosslyn's most famous architectural feature is the Apprentice Pillar, the young man who carved it having been murdered by his envious masonic master. It is said by some to depict Yggdrasil, a planet-sized tree from the essentially Satanic world of Norse mythology.
Naught for your comfort there then: murder and Satanism. Still, I can't think there were many Vikings in medieval Midlothian so the theory is probably tosh anyway.
More plausible is the view of French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who said the pillar depicted "a bunch of sausages".
I can't think of a link to that so, moving swiftly on, the chapel also features carvings of Green Men, not Hibs supporters from nearby Embra, but Pagan nature spirits with foliage in their barnets.
To sum up, there is a lot of murderous, Satanic, Episcopalian, sausage-based Paganism in this place. No wonder it gives me the creeps. Chuck in some Freemasons and the Knights Templar, and you have a case for cordoning off the area.
Symbolism from both of these dubious sources supposedly features in the chapel, which some deluded authorities claim is based on Solomon's Temple. The site is also associated with Jesus of Penicuik and local prophet John the Bampot.
No wonder conspiracy-loving Dan Brown wrote a novel about Rosslyn — the Da Vinci Code — and that, lo, the book begat a movie which begat visitors to the site which begat shekels which begat the recent repairs.
You should pay it a visit. Perhaps you will shiver, perhaps you will exult. Perhaps you will fall doon a portal into ooter space. Failing that, for a truly mystical, mind-mangling experience, try Ikea up the road.
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