When I eat pancakes I always save the center bite for last. It’s the best one, soaked in butter and syrup and leaves you with that sweet taste in your mouth to remind you of how delicious the entire meal was.
Rosslyn Chapel was our last sweet bite of Scotland, with a few amuse-bouches beforehand….
We spent our next to last Scottish sleepover in Dunfermline, in an absolutely charming Inn hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Doubtfire (not really, but they must have been the inspiration for the accent in the movie!). They wore us out with their fast non-stop cheerful Scottish brogue and happy tales of all that is Scottish, but what a fun way to start our final day of travels.
After we left their beautiful home we unwillingly (on my part at least) headed back into roundabout land, finally making our way to the Bannockburn Heritage Center. This is the visitor center that is focused on the Battle of Bannockburn that was fought between the English and the Scots in June 1314. It was here in the lands below Stirling Castle that Robert Bruce, King of Scots, would face down the English army led by Edward II, and the result was an unprecedented rout of King Edward’s army.
The center shows an amazing series of 3D displays and a movie in surround, along with a great depiction of the battle on a large virtual battlefield. Marty really wanted to join a class of 2nd graders being led by one of the centers’ ‘Battlemasters’, in an interactive simulation where the kids took command of the knights and soldiers who fought in 1314, pitting their wits against each other on the virtual battlefield. I had to promise him a Guinness to get him to leave…some kids never grow up!
After playing battle in our 3D glasses and learning more about Robert the Bruce, it was time to head back into roundabout mania. It seems that the route we took on this day was full of those lovely character building circles (can you tell I’m ready to hand in my car keys?). We soon arrived in the little village of Roslin where we grabbed some lunch on the outdoor patio at “The Original Rosslyn Inn” before walking down to the Chapel.
I love the way these special little places are situated behind huge trees and high walls, so that you get the wow factor when you walk through the gate. Rosslyn Chapel was this way, and definitely received a wow from me. It’s a small building as these types of structures go, but this one is so ornate and so beautiful it just takes your breath away.
The building was begun in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, 3rd Prince of Orkney. It was said of him: ‘William, with his age creeping upon him… came into his mind to build a house for God’s service, of most curious work . . . that it might be done with greater glory and splendour’. The town of Roslin grew as a result of the many workmen that would have been required to build such a detailed and “curious” structure, that took 40 years to complete.
There are hundreds of detailed carvings inside the chapel that have mysterious meanings, and those meanings have been debated over the years. Many, many books have been written about Rosslyn Chapel, and of course one that most people recognize; The DaVinci Code. We had fun walking around looking for the green men; ‘Rosslyn is renowned for its many carvings of the Green Man, historically a pagan figure. The vines sprouting from his mouth represent nature’s growth and fertility, illustrating the unity between humankind and nature’. You can’t take photos in the Chapel, so you’ll have to look online if you want to see shots of the interior (the one of the green man is from their internet site).
We spent a couple of hours wandering in and around the Chapel, then walked down a dirt road under some enormous beech trees to the site of the old castle. It’s a beautiful area and we loved our last walk through the ancient stones…
From Rosslyn we headed to our own set of castle stones where we had booked a room for the night. We figured that champagne and a four-poster bed in a room with a turret was just the right way to end a fantastic tour through bonnie Scotland. It may be a wee country but it holds a very large place in our hearts!