Edinburgh Summer Diary: Day Four
Today was to have a special visit dedicated to Rosslyn Chapel, the church of considerable fame featured in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. I should confess straight away that I have never read Dan Brown’s tale of the Knights Templar but fully intend to – especially after this superb visit.
Prior to visiting the chapel we took a lunch in the nearby Roslin Glen Hotel in Rosslyn village. It was clear to see through the information and pictures in the pub’s bars and lobby that the village is one with much history, quite apart from the chapel and it’s legends.
The chapel lies six miles south of Edinburgh and was built in the 15th century by Earl William St. Clair of Rosslyn who’s family was descended from noble Norman knights . Rosslyn Chapel is now a building that holds much mystery for all.
Without attempting to delve too deeply into the history of the chapel, one of the notable stories is of the ‘Apprentice Pillar’ and the apprentice and master mason’s eventual fate. Countless other stories such as that of the Green Man, the Musical Boxes and the Ears of Corn are also depicted in the fabulous, intricate carvings that cover the interior of the chapel.
The crypt below the chapel has been used as a burial place for the Sinclair (St. Clare) family and it’s from here where much of the legendary stories emanate. Having been sealed tight for many a year the crypt is subject to the legend that the crypt is actually a façade to a greatly more subterranean vault. The vault is by turns said to contain the treasure of the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar, the original crown jewels of Scotland and even the mummified head of Jesus Christ. During previous underground explorations no entrance to such a further vault has been identified as yet however.
These days Rosslyn Chapel is under the strictest care. After an ill-judged treating of the interior walls, damp began to affect the intricate displays. To counteract this, the building now has a huge roof placed over it to allow the masonry to completely dry out over time. A curious eyesore perhaps but a necessary one which will ensure a stable future for this incredible and historic place of worship
Inspector John Rebus
Being a fairly avid reader of Ian Rankin’s tales of the famous Edinburgh detective, I’d a plan on returning to Edinburgh from Rosslyn to check out a couple of his haunts. Arden Street is renowned as the scene of Rebus’ home, situated in a fine Georgian tenement building in the upmarket area of Marchmont, oft quoted in the novels. Very smart and refined it is too. One can almost imagine the sleuth in his customary position slumped in his favourite chair, falling asleep fully-clothed, his Rolling Stones vinyl disc scudding to a close next to him as he falls into slumber and dreams of a solution to his latest case.
It must be time for a pint so Rebus’ local is next on the agenda. I’ve visited the Oxford Bar a couple of times before and this time it looked in better shape than of yore. A Friday tea-time session saw ‘The Ox’ full to the rafters with after-work drinkers and a very mixed clientele. I ordered a pint of Tennants and looked closely around the bar in an attempt to spot Inspector Rebus’ bar-room crony, ‘Salty’ Dougerie but was unsuccessful.
Leith – The Shore
Evening saw a trip to the Shore at Leith, a favourite dining spot for many with a wide and eclectic
range of eating experiences. The old port (motto: ‘Persevere’) has seen many changes over. the past couple of decades, mainly for the better. There are perhaps certain parts of Leith’s history that should never be changed but after becoming run down some years ago, the shore area in particular was regenerated to good effect, like many other old dockland areas, notably with ‘yuppie’ apartments and new businesses opened in the original bonding houses which once kept whisky and claret.
We settled for a previous choice this evening, The King’s Wark, an ancient pub overlooking the old waterway. There are many and numerous ways in which to part with your money in Leith if you’re hungry – seriously so. This evening however we chose bar food at this wonderful historic old hostelry dating back to the fifteenth century. Very good it was too and served by a cheery and helpful staff. To be recommended.
We closed the evening with a few drinks at The Cask and Barrel on Broughton Street. Friday night and the pub was very busy with a good, mixed crowd. Some top quality people watching was available too amongst the younger set trying to establish relations with the opposite sex. Often unfortunately unsuccessful as two nice young girls failed to register on the radar of a small group of boys who were probably more attuned to today’s sports results. Wakey, wakey boys!
Another happy stay back in the city I care about most comes to an end. It’s ben a delightful mix of new and old – years-old stomping grounds and fresh new experiences. I welcome the next stay in Auld Reekie.
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