Rosslyn Chapel, prominently featured in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and the film featuring Tom Hanks, may have garnered extra fame from the popularity of the book and film, but I firmly believe Rosslyn Chapel has earned its fame in its own right. Built in the 15th century and added to over the centuries, Rosslyn Chapel is one of the best examples (if not the best example) of gothic architecture in the United Kingdom. I visited Rosslyn Chapel on a chilly winter’s day, and I was taken aback by the intricate masonry, rural setting, and dramatic symbolism of the stories carved into stone. How this chapel survived a religious reformation and the dreich Scottish weather is astonishing. It is indeed a marvel and a mystery packaged in one.
”A mystery through history.” This was how our guide described the ornate Rosslyn Chapel as we sat in the pews, Alex bouncing on my lap. Much of Rosslyn’s Chapel history is unknown and one can only guess at the symbolism embedded in the walls and pillars.
It was Alex’s first Scotland adventure with us, and I could think of no better place to take him than Rosslyn Chapel. His eyes widened in interest as he scanned the room, first the starry ceiling, then the curved pillars, and onto the bright stained-glass windows.
”I’ve never seen a baby so young take such an interest in his surroundings!” the guide remarked. Rosslyn Chapel is approved by a three-month-old. This comes as no surprise, as some of the world’s most prominent writers and artists have been inspired by Rosslyn Chapel, including Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and William Wordsworth.
What makes it all the more interesting are the theories, myths and legends associated with the chapel. In this guide, I’m sharing the most interesting stories of the chapel and tips for planning the perfect day trip.
Did you know that we provide private driving tours in Scotland? We can organise a day trip from Edinburgh for you and take you to see Rosslyn Chapel as well as many of our other favourite haunts in the Scottish Borders! Visit our website Kiwi and Haggis Tours for more information.
A Brief History of Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel gained much fame after appearing in the Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code but Rosslyn Chapel has earned its fame in its own right. It is easily one of the most intricate examples of architecture in Scotland, if not the entire United Kingdom.
Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, who came from a line of master masons. It took 40 years to build, and almost every surface inside the chapel boasts carved stonework depicting nature or stories from the Bible.
The chapel is located in Roslin, less than 8 miles from the centre of Edinburgh. It was formerly known as the Collegiate Church of St Matthew.
Sadly, Sir William passed away before the chapel was complete. His son carried on the work but did not complete his father’s original design.
Rosslyn Chapel surprisingly survived the Scottish Reformation, however afterwards, the Chapel fell into disrepair.
and, in 1650, Cromwell’s troops attacked Rosslyn Castle and stabled their horses inside the Chapel.
In the mid-1800s the chapel was repaired and resumed its weekly services.
More recently, a major conservation project has been undertaken by the Rosslyn Chapel Trust after reports showed damage in the chapel due to high humidity.
Tips For Visiting Rosslyn Chapel
- Make sure you pre-book your tickets for visiting Rosslyn Chapel. Details on how to do this can be found below.
- You cannot take photography or videos inside, but you can take images of the outside of the chapel (please note any photos in this article were taken with permission or stock imagery has been used).
- The gift shop has some wonderful products, including books, art, pottery, stationery and more. If you like beer, Rosslyn Chapel even has their own micro-brewery! You can purchase bottles of their beer from the gift shop.
- There is a small cafe located inside the gift shop. If you were looking for a more substantial meal, there are also pubs and restaurants in the village of Roslin. My recommendations include The Original Rosslyn Inn, Dolly’s Tea Room, or The Steading located near Hillend.
Pricing for 2023:
- Adult (18-60) – £9.50
- Concession (60+, student, unemployed, Armed Forces) – £7.50
- Children (0-17) – Free
- Passholders – Free
You need to book a time to visit Rosslyn Chapel, and there are 5 timeslots you can book between Monday to Saturday, and 3 visiting timeslots on Sunday. You can pre-purchase your tickets on the Rosslyn Chapel website.
Monday to Saturday
- 9.00 am to 10.30 am (Guide talk inside chapel at around 9.30 am)
- 10.30 am to 12 noon (Guide talk inside chapel at around 11 am)
- 12.15 pm to 1.45 pm (Guide talk inside chapel at around 12.45 pm)
- 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm (Guide talk inside chapel at around 2.30 pm)
- 3.30pm to 5pm (Guide talk inside chapel at around 4 pm)
- 12 noon to 1.30 pm (Guide talk inside chapel at around 12.30 pm)
- 1.45 pm to 3.15 pm (Guide talk inside chapel at around 2 pm)
- 3.30 pm to 5pm (Guide talk inside chapel at around 4 pm)
How To Get To Rosslyn Chapel
The easiest way to reach Rosslyn Chapel is by car.
Located just 30 minutes by car from Edinburgh, the map below shows you the most direct route from the city centre:
You can also get to Rosslyn Chapel by bus- Lothian service 37.
You can also visit Rosslyn Chapel on a tour. Rabbies have this full-day tour that includes a visit to Rosslyn Chapel and the Scottish Borders. Rabbies is a tour company I highly recommend for group tours in Scotland- they offer affordable, comfortable tours, and their guides are excellent!
Prefer a private tour? Craig, my husband, also offers private driving tours and can take you to visit Rosslyn Chapel. Visit Kiwi and Haggis Tours for more information.
Are you planning on visiting Rosslyn Chapel?