Rosslyn Chapel and Torphichen

We broke our day in Edinburgh up with a couple of excursions out of the city. In the morning some members of our tour party visited Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin. I can’t give you a reason for the different spellings. Unfortunately they asked us not to take photos inside, so I’m unable to show you why the chapel is popular. It was originally built as a private chapel for the landowner here. He employed stone masons, who created many different biblical scenes in sandstone and placed them around the interior walls of the chapel. The place became known as the Bible in Stone because there are so many Bible stories you can find adorning the masonry. There are also two pillars here. One is the work of the master mason, and the other was created by his apprentice while the master was on the continent studying great works in preparation for returning to Scotland to finish it. When he returned and found that his apprentice’s pillar had already been given the nod of approval in place of the one he was planning to create, the master flew into a rage and murdered the apprentice. All very interesting and appealing, but none of these factors would bring the tourists in such large numbers. The popularity of the chapel today with visitors is due to its place in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, and to the scenes filmed here that appeared in the film of the same name.

And then in the evening, we made our way to the bus again, through all of the Spice Girls fans staying in the hotel, and drove to another small village for an evening of traditional Scottish fare. Our bus got caught up in the Spice Girls traffic around the stadium too. We eventually cleared that and made our way to the village of Torphichen, to the inn where our host Kenny and his staff put on a great night for us. Shortly before reaching the village we passed some highland cattle, comically referred to here as ‘hairy coos’, but I didn’t have my camera ready. I hope we see some more before we leave Scotland as they would make a great photo. The bagpipes were playing as Kenny welcomed each one of us individually at the door of the inn. When we took our seats he spoke to us of the history of the village and of his efforts to make the inn a welcome place for visitors. And then he sang to us, without instruments. The song he sang was one I was quite familiar with. Eric Bogle’s ‘Green Fields of France’, which takes the listener to the graveside of a nineteen year old Scottish soldier who fell in the Great War. His name was Willie McBride. I’ve always thought it was a more moving song than Eric’s other, more famous one. And Kenny sang it with passion and pride. The haggis was piped in and introduced to the assembled diners with due ceremony, and brought around for us to try. I actually quite like it and went back for several helpings. I think it got the tick of approval from most of the people sitting at our table. Once the meal started we were treated to some fine folk music from a couple of musicians and even a little highland dancing from one of the girls of the village. And, of course, we heard a little more of the bagpipes during the evening. The food was good, the company was good and the music was great. And the warmth of the welcome by Kenny and his staff was wonderful. There was a really good spirit in Torphichen Inn all evening and, as a Scot would tell you, the craic was mighty. Back in our hotel approaching midnight, the bloody Spice Girls fans were making a racket in the corridor outside our room, indicating that the craic had been pretty good for all of them too. No doubt they’ll all have sore heads in the morning.

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