Rosslyn Chapel Ghosts: A Weeping Sculptor, Strange Figures, A Praying Monk & A Terrified Workforce

Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland is reported to be home to a variety of different ghosts, visitors have claimed to see strange apparitions during visits, and in 2010 a group of workmen refused to carry out restoration work during the night.

Scottish ghost stories from the Rosslyn Chapel
Scottish ghost stories from the Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel lies quite close to Edinburgh, to the south of the city. Founded in 1446 by William Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, it is a popular visitor site and a place of historical, religious, and architectural interest.

Historically, the chapel is the subject of much controversy. Some historians believe that the chapel had strong links in the past with the Knights Templar. Many theories have been proposed as to the supposed existence of religious relics - some believe this includes the Holy Grail - hidden within an underground vault beneath the floor of the chapel.

One of the most recent theories is the most astonishing - that the chapel has buried beneath it the mummified head of Christ, which was worshipped by the Knights Templar hundreds of years ago. The trustees of the chapel are under constant pressure to carry out excavations to find out whether there is any truth in any of the many theories about its mysterious past.

Architecturally, Rosslyn is interesting for several different reasons. The interior of the chapel is unusually ornate for a Scottish church and is unique amongst its contemporaries. Scottish religious buildings of the time were characteristically very plain in design, and although Rosslyn is essentially a Gothic building, its fanciful decoration and exotic - some would say eccentric - ornament makes it stand apart from all others.

The crypt at the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland
The crypt at the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland

There is evidence to suggest that many foreign craftsmen were employed in its construction, which would account in part for some of the decorative elements that are evident in the building. One piece of particular merit within the chapel is a very ornate and beautifully carved pillar, known as The Apprentice or Prentice Pillar.

The Apprentice Pillar has a story of its own to tell. The story goes that when the chapel was being constructed, a stone mason was requested to carve this pillar in the style of a particular column in Rome. The mason was finding it difficult to reproduce the desired effect using the picture he had of the column as his only source of inspiration. To prepare himself adequately for the task, he decided to travel to Rome to see the original column for himself.

A journey of this sort was quite an undertaking in those days, and the mason was away for some weeks. In the absence of his master, the stonemason's apprentice, who had been left behind, decided to try and carve the pillar himself. He studied the picture that his master had been given and set to work.

When the stonemason returned from Italy, he found that the work that his apprentice had done was far superior to anything he might have been able to carve himself. In a fit of rage and jealousy, he killed his apprentice on the spot. The story of the murder is given credence by the fact that there had to be a delay between the construction of the chapel and its eventual consecration, which took place only after an Act of Reconciliation had been sought from the Archbishop of St Andrews.

The ghostly apprentice returned to haunt the chapel and the work of which he was so proud. His mournful figure has been seen standing beside his pillar and the sound of his weeping has been heard by many people who have visited the chapel over the years.

Other Reported Ghost Sightings At Rosslyn Chapel

In July 2006, a group of actors were using the chapel to rehearse for a play they were due to perform at the Edinburgh Festival. One of them claimed to have seen a figure in the building, they described it as "fairy-like". On the same evening, one of the group members was locking up the chapel when he claimed to hear the voice of a child in the crypt, not wanting to lock someone inside, he ventured down to see who it was - no one was there.

The chapel has seen many a monk visit its grounds throughout history, and several witnesses have claimed that one of them still resides within the chapel. Several visitors have reported watching as a ghostly monk was seen praying at the altar. One of the reports even claimed that the monk, clad in grey, was surrounded by four knights during the sighting.

Several other visitors have claimed to have seen what they described as hooded monks wandering around the chapel and its grounds.

Other people have reported feeling a strange chill in the air, even on a warm day, as you approach the crypt. As recently as 2010, a group of workmen were working throughout the night on restoration work in the chapel, the following morning, all of them refused to work during the night again on the property, work then continued during daylight hours only.

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