T&L left by 6:30 for the airport. I took my time getting organized. Met some more Con people at the breakfast buffet in the hotel. Everyone seemed to have had a wonderful time.
Driving out of the city was easier than I expected, despite Fringe and rush hour traffic at 8:30 AM. Finding Roslyn Chapel was more difficult. It is not well marked. I presume this is part of the campaign to reduce the paradox of too many tourists. The Chapel needs the admission fees to help pay for an ongoing, decades long restoration. At the same time, too many people traipsing through causes damage. Just breathing inside adds to the moisture that eats away at the stone sculptures.
Roslyn Chapel is smaller than I imagined. So many photos fill the space with the building and no landscape or perspective to show the actual size. The builders intended this to be only one arm of a much larger cathedral. They ran out of money and interest in completing it.
What struck me second was the age of the place. Old. Age and time are embedded in the building, like the land. I entered the building with respect and reverence. It is a church that still serves a local population. Just starting to enter into a state of reflection and awe when a HUGE tour group entered. They too were respectful, but just too many psyches drowning out that sense of ‘other’ I’ve come to expect in hallowed places. The group was so large they had a very special tour guide, the son of the present Earl who owns the Chapel and the lands. Listened from the fringes and learned a lot. I felt his love for the place from the beginning. He reached out and caressed some of the carvings as if they spoke to him.
Carvings abound. Almost every square inch of the place is covered in stone carvings. It has been described as a “Song in Stone.” Walter Hunt, an acquaintance, used that phrase as the title of his time travel novel that is an homage to Roslyn Chapel. I later learned he took his tour of the chapel the day before I did with a Masonic guide. Not everyone gets that privilege. But I spoke with a member of the family.
I got a bit of that sense of ‘other’ in the crypt—which is 100 years older than the chapel—when I saw shells from St Iago de Compestella in Spain placed as offerings in the niches. This is a concrete link to an ancient mystery pilgrimage. My camera battery died at that moment. The universe did not want me to take those pictures. I could have gone back to the car and changed them, but I was getting too hungry by then.
After eating in the tiny cafeteria I browsed the gift shop and spent way too much money on books. Then I walked around outside a bit and climbed the scaffolding that supports a tent covering the entire building. This is part of the restoration, trying to dry it out after centuries of neglect. The damp has softened and obscured many of the carvings. As ugly as this protective shroud is, it was kind of neat, giving a bird’s eye view of the buttresses and the Rose Window above the Lady Chapel. It’s a shame there has been so much damage to the stonework. I was surprised to see a barrel roof (like the ceiling the crypt) I just expected a peak. We don’t get to see the roofs often from that angle. And it is from an era later than barrels I thought. 1440.
On to Glasgow. Easy trek back to the M8. This time I was familiar enough with signs that I had no trouble finding the airport and the rental return place. Now for a nice quiet evening preparing for the flight home. I had a lot to think about after seeing Roslyn Chapel. I’d wanted to see this place even before Dan Brown made it internationally famous in “The Da Vinci Code.” I’ve read books about it, and included it in passing, along with references to the mystery pilgrimage in “Guardian of the Vision” by Irene Radford. I need to see it again. Spend more time in quiet meditation there. If I ever come back, it will be on top of the must-do list.
A once in a lifetime experience.
Phyllis Irene Radford is a founding member of Book View Café and blogs here regularly on Thursdays, the same day her cozy mystery “Lacing Up For Murder” by Irene Radford is serialized on the front page rotation.
For more about her and her fiction please visit her bookshelf here on BVC http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Phyllis-Irene-Radford/
Or her personal web page ireneradford.com