It’s our last full day in Edinburgh. Our original plan was to visit Holyrood House Palace at the bottom of the Royal Mile, but those pesky, omnipresent royals decided to use their vacation house in Scotland and thwarted our entrance. So unable to see the bedroom where David Rizzio was murdered by Mary Queens of Scots’ husband Lord Darnley, we went to plan B which proved to be an excellent summary and climax to our magical mystery tour.
Plan B was a visit to Rosslyn Chapel, a mystery in itself, which is but a few miles outside of Edinburgh to the southeast. The chapel is associated with the mysterious medieval Knights Templar and with freemasonry. It figures in the climax of Dan Brown’s The da Vinci Code as the location of the Holy Grail. It is a small chapel, founded by the St. Claire family in the 15th century. Over the years it has attracted a variety of interpretations of the enigmatic sandstone carvings that decorate the interior. There are symbols that seem to connect with the rituals of the Knights Templar and with the free masons along with more traditional medieval iconography, i.e., the seven virtues and vices, the dance of death, and stories from the Bible (the nativity, Lucifer’ fall, the crucifixion, etc.). A musical theme runs throughout, with angels playing lutes, pipes, violas, even bagpipes! There are images that appear to be maize (corn) which was not known in Europe at the time of the chapel’s construction (1456).
The crypt has not been opened for fear a legend is true that the chapel will self-destruct if the crypt’s earthen wall is breached. This leaves it open to speculation about what secret is hidden there. Is it the mummified body of Jesus, the head of John the Baptist, the Grail, the treasures of the Knights Templar, the Virgin Mary, Elvis? Who knows. It remains a mystery. The last one on our journey through the mysteries of Britain. From the building of Stonehenge to the crypt at Rosslyn, with wizards and witches in between, we have come to the end of our own grail quest, and as the Grateful Dead once sang, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”