Rosslyn Chapel - 'The Chappell of Rosslin'

Slezer's drawing of the Rosslyn Chapel (to use the modern spelling) was made from the south-east. Dogs are playing and visitors are wandering in what is now a graveyard.

The chapel is near the village of Roslin. It was founded by Sir William St Clair in 1446. In 1650, it was used as stables by Oliver Cromwell's army. Following the accession of William and Mary to the throne in 1689, some of the chapels were damaged by supporters of their Protestant reign.

Image from Theatrum Scotiae by John Slezer, 1693.

view / zoom large image  |  help

Slezer Engraving

enquiries / copies


  Read what Robert Sibbald wrote in Theatrum Scotiae about Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel

To the Right Honourable GEORGE Earl of Caithness, Lord Biridall, &c.

Roslin Chapel

This Chapel lies in Mid-Lothian, Four Miles from Edinburgh, and is one of the most curious Pieces of Workman-ship in Europe. The Foundation of this rare Building was laid Anno 1440 by William St Clair, Prince of Orkney, Duke of Holdenburgh, &c. A Man as considerable for the publick Works which he erected, as for the Lands which he possess'd, and the Honours which were conferred upon him by several of the greatest Princes of Europe. It is remarkable that in all this Work there are not two Cuts of one fort. The most curious Part of the Building is the Vault of the Quire, and that which is called the Prince's Pillar so much talk'd of. This Chapel was possess'd by a Provost, and Seven Cannons Regular, who were endued with several considerable Revenues through the Liberality of the Lairds of Roslin.

Here lies buried George Earl of Caithness, who lived about the Beginning of the Reformation, Alexander Earl of Sutherland, great Grand-Child to King Robert de Bruce, Three Earls of Orkney, and Nine Barons of Roslin.

The last lay in a Vault, so dry that their Bodies have been found intire after Fourscore Years, and as fresh as when they were first buried. There goes a Tradition, That before the Death of any of the Family of Roslin, this Chapel appears all in Fire.

Who was Robert Sibbald?

Back to top   NLS Home | Digital gallery