Rosslyn Chapel – Counting the green men

I’ve always wanted to visit Rosslyn Chapel, especially for all the myths and mysteries surrounding this chapel, so I was very excited when we decided to visit it last summer. Many believe that the Holy Grail or even the head of Christ all lie hidden within the chapel… then there was Dan Brown. All in all, Rosslyn Chapel attracts a lot of visitors for different reasons :-)

Rosslyn Chapel

When we arrived, I was really disappointed to learn that we couldn’t take pictures inside the chapel. The place was really small… and there was a lot of people.. so in a way I could understand that they have to limit the number of flashs or selfie sticks to make the experience pleasurable for everyone. I was a bit heartbroken because I would have loved to take pictures of all the intricate carvings and others symbols :-( The museum was really entertaining and we learnt a lot ! Thankfully, I managed to take a few pictures inside the museum as well as in the souvenir shop, where it was allowed.

One of the most impressive thing about this chapel were definitively the carvings, mostly inspired by nature.

There are more than 100 green men in Rosslyn chapel and it was kind of fun to try to spot them all.

Green Man in Rosslyn Chapel

They were well hidden sometimes. The human faces are surrounded by vegetation, often growing out of their mouths. It’s very common in most medieval churches apparently as it represents the symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of growth each spring. The most interesting bit about that is that you could find different faces, with young faces symbolising spring at the East of the Chapel, ageing faces as autumn approaches through South and West, and skeletons in the North.

Of course, there are more carvings than green men, for example the gargoyles, or the finest of all, the Apprentice Pillar.

I was fascinated by the story of the Apprentice Pillar. The legend says that the master stonemason had to design a pillar. The carvings were so intricate that he didn’t work to work on it until he had travelled to Rome to see the original. While he was away, the mason’s apprentice had a dream that he had finished the pillar. When the master came back, the pillar was complete, a masterpiece of stonework. The mason was not pleased and killed the apprentice.

The guide told us that the pillar was probably made by an expert stonemason and not by apprentice.  I like the story better :-)

After that visit, I had mixed feelings. In a way I was very happy to have visited it but I could have learnt all of that by watching a documentary I suppose. When I cannot take pictures, half of the fun is gone for me.. I know it’s a bit sad but I can’t help it ! That’s how I enjoy my visits :-)




59 responses to “Rosslyn Chapel – Counting the green men

  1. I have carved a green man from Norwich cathedral, agree such a pity you couldn’t capture your own angles. Perhaps they should allow done photography sessions. I will try and look up the green men carved there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh it must have been so much better than now. It attracts so many people. At the same time it’s good because they make lots of money for renovation but at the same time, the huge number of tourists increase the degradation I think

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I would be upset too… Our photographs are our special, personal memories of a place. No youtube video can replace them.
    The carvings are so fascinating. I would be standing there and staring for hours :) Pity about photography :(

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The no photo thing always disappoints me too – but you did get some great ones. Sounds like a fascinating place, all those stories about it are wonderful. My son has just discovered Dan Brown amongst our old books and is turning into a mega fan – this is somewhere we should go!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Gin,
    What an interesting place you have visited! I too would have been disappointed in the same situation, but very happy you could get a few shots and visit of place full of history and intrigue :) Hope you have a good weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And then, there was Dan Brown! Haha! I know, it’s disappointing when you can’t take pictures. But the ones you did get — are pretty awesome! :) I like the way every historical/religious place has some mythical story about it. We rarely opt for guides, prefer audio guides or books. I’d rather take my time and admire these works of art, than listen to a guide. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really crazy about all mythical stories linked to old places. That’s why I love stone circles so much I think :-) There are still so many mysteries around them.

      Here the guide was included in the price of the ticket, and we had a limited time in the chapel.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Always disappointing to find a no camera policy. I’m with you in that I have a hard time enjoying it as much without being able to photograph it to share with others. The little green men are fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was a bit frustrated as it’s quite difficult to take a full picture of the chapel as it is enclosed in a very tiny space and I don’t have a wide angle.. so I just used my phone as last resort :D


  7. Hi there, Enjoyed this post as I do with all of yours – good photos, even if you were a bit denied to take all the ones you wanted. I felt the same in the Cistercian crypt in Rome. All those fascinating Baroque designs made out of human bones and you can’t take photos. You follow my blog as well (europewithanedge) and I wanted to ask if you had any objections to me posting a comment/link on your latest post to a story of mine that is in a Balkans travel writing competition? It has been published on their website and they said they will be judging on ‘social media virality’ as well as story quality so I am trying to ‘up’ my ‘likes’ and I thought if I could link to it on your blog more people would get to see and hopefully enjoy it. It’s about raspberry picking in Serbia – now who wouldn’t like a story about that! :) No worries if you’re not OK with the idea but I thought nothing ventured … All the best.  Ian

    PS There are other good stories on there too, with some great photos that you and your followers might like as well. 

    Liked by 1 person

    • Someone told me the same about Rome, it seems there are a lot of places where photography is not allowed over there. I suppose people may have been disrespectful at one point and they had to stop it ?

      Oh yes sure, you can put the link in the comment of the last post if you want (as long as it is not 5 links ;-)).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can totally empathise with you. I would be disappointed, too, if I wasn’t allowed to take photos of a building as famous as Rosslyn Chapel. After reading this post about the crowd and no photography allowed inside, I think I will shift gears a bit and take your advice on watching a video on Rosslyn Chapel instead! :-) You managed to get some great photos, though. Just love the attention to detail on the carvings and sculptures.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, that reminds me of several places in Rome where we were not allowed to take pictures’s too bad :( but memories that linger on our mind would certainly better than any images we captured :) Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Cool learning about this but I know what you mean, it sucks when you can’t take pictures :( We thought there was no photography allowed in the catacombs in Paris and were disappointed. Then we realized the sign meant no flash so we cheered up right away.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The green men are fascinating. I love that photo and the idea behind them is really interesting, too. Although I love taking photos most times, I actually feel relieved sometimes when photography is not allowed! It frees me to really look at things with my eyes and spend time absorbing rather than documenting. Maybe I’m weird …

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand your point of view, and I think a lot of people may be like you. I joined what Mabel explained in her comment, taking pictures allows me to focus on the details and really get into a location and learn about it. It’s not just for the sake of taking a picture, it’s the way I enjoy my visit :D

      Liked by 1 person

  12. These are beautiful photos outside of the chapel. Amazing intricate architecture indeed, and interesting to know some faces at different locations align with the meaning of the way the sun moves. You know, I am like you too. Whenever I go somewhere, a lot of the fun for me is taking photos – I feel like I learn and observe better when I get to take photos. For me taking photos is not just for souvenir, but it also trains me to see what I see in a different angle…which is also why I prefer going by myself than joining a group to see a place. But sometimes that can’t be helped :D

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you want to search for details when you can take pictures, you want to explore, look everywhere. Here it was very weird, it’s a bit like I didn’t know where to start :-) I’m completely with you on that !

      Liked by 1 person

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