Illustrated Guide to Rosslyn Chapel &c. - Book Review

Twelfth Edition. Hardback and goldblocked. 144 pages.
ISBN: 0-9544268-1-9. £12.50 (plus p&p) Edited by Robert L. D. Cooper, BA, FSA (Scot),Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library
Published by Masonic Publishing Co.

Rosslyn Chapel, Rosslyn, books about Rosslyn ChapelLike the book: Genealogie of the Saintclaires of Rosslyn (the link will take you to a page which reviews the book and where you can order it securely on-line) which was published by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Illustrated Guide to Rosslyn Chapel etc. has been difficult, if not impossible, to obtain and when available on the second hand market was beyond the pocket of many. The publication of the twelfth edition of this book is, therefore, to be welcomed.

There has been so much nonsense published about Rosslyn Chapel over the last 15 years or so that it is now extremely difficult to know what is nonsense and what is accurate. This book: The Illustrated Guide to Rosslyn Chapel was the official guide book sold at the Chapel and elsewhere from 1892. It was authorised, therefore, by the then St Clair Family and was the most accurate factual account of the chapel, and the surrounding area. The book has long since ceased to be used and has been out of print for many years. It has been replaced by 'speculative' publications which emphasise a mythological approach rather than any other interpretation.

This new edition of the original guide book of Rosslyn Chapel means that, for the first time in recent memory, people can now compare what was accepted, for many many years, as the correct and accepted description of the chapel with what is available now. Such a comparison reveals some extremely interesting, and significant, differences between what was true one hundred years ago and how Rosslyn Chapel is explained today.

Of even more interest is the interpretation of the the contents of the Chapel. The reader will be able to, for example, compare what a particular stone carving originally meant and what is now said about the same stone carving.

  • Rosslyn Chapel - What is it? - A Pagan place of worship?, Masonic building? or a Jewish Temple? 
  • Why was it built, by whom and for what purpose? 
  • Who is buried in the vaults below the chapel? 
  • Green Men – What are they? - Animal, vegetable or mineral? 
  • Is the death mask of Robert the Bruce in the retro-choir? 
  • Are there carving of cactus in the chapel and if so does this prove that Scotsmen discovered America before Christopher Columbus? 
  • Was the chapel deliberately left unfinished? 
  • Who was the last Grand Master to be buried at the chapel?

All these questions and more are answered in this volume which provides immense detail about the chapel and the surrounding area.

The books does contain the erroneous claims about the St Clair family being hereditary Grand Masters etc. but these errors have been addressed elsewhere.

This book, long out of print, is a treasure chest of information written by a Priest who had intimate knowledge of the chapel. Whether you use this Guide when visiting the chapel or simply read it to learn more about this most interesting edifice it is a must for all those interested in the Rosslyn Chapel. In addition anyone interested in the history of Freemasonry (especially Scottish Freemasonry), the Sinclair (or St Clair) family and the Knights Templar ought to own this book for as much as it does not say as for what it does.

Edited by Brother Robert L. D. Cooper, Curator, of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library.

The book can be ordered from the Grand Lodge Shop

If you prefer you may download an order form (PDF 144Kb) to order the book by mail order. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this pdf. file. If you do not have this software installed on your computer click here for a free download .

There is also an interesting site about Rosslyn Chapel etc. at:

www.rosslyntemplars.org.uk