I visited the Rosslyn Chapel (of The Davinci Code fame). The chapel is an extraordinary work of art. Every surface inside is covered with intricate symbolic carvings. At the time the chapel was built very few people could read so the church carvings were a way that they could learn bible stories. William St. Clare started building the chapel in 1446 and it took over forty years to complete. To us, forty years seems like a long time to be working on a building, but that is even more extraordinary at the time because the average human lifespan was only 35 years. The chapel was built as a Catholic chapel, but in 1560, the government forced them to change to a Protestant chapel. The family and clergy that owned and cared for the chapel resisted this change for 32 years until they finally closed the building instead of converting. The chapel remained closed for 270 years. In the 19th century, the building was reopened and restored. The chapel was officially reopened in 1862. There has been a lot of restoration work since then and you can check out their website if you want to know more about that.
They don’t allow photography inside the chapel, so all I have is a picture of the outside. You can visit their website to see pictures of what the inside looks like and to read more history:http://www.rosslynchapel.org.uk/
After the chapel, we drove back to the city of Edinburgh. It was raining so hard that the freeway was flooded and closed so we had to take the side roads all the way back. I heard on the radio that this is a record amount of rain for the UK and there was flash flooding in some areas. When we got back we walked down to the city center and went to the Scottish National Gallery (an art museum) where we got a tour by an art history professor from Cambridge. It was really interesting to walk around and take time to look at a few pieces closely instead of just trying to see as many pieces as possible. After the art museum, we walked around and got to see the Edinburg Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, and a few shops. The cathedral was gorgeous (you had to pay for a photo permit there, so I don’t have any pictures of that either) with amazing stained glass. Here are some pictures (sorry that they are so small) from the website: http://www.stgilescathedral.org.uk/history/architecture/victorianwindows.html
On the way back from Scotland we stopped at the town of Richmond. Richmond is a quintessential English town. The main attraction is the castle. I have seen so many sheep in England and Scotland so I have been searching for a place to buy yarn from Scottish or English sheep. They had this little market where I found yarn, so I bought undyed Leicester yarn in brown for myself and white for my sister. I can’t wait to make something out of it. Now I am looking for a place to buy knitting needles. A little knitting project would be perfect for all the hours I will be spending on a train or bus over the next 6.5 weeks.
Richmond castle has all kinds of interesting history, both from when it was built and from 20th c. history. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Castle) The castle was used during WWI to imprison 16 conscientious objectors that refused to fight in the British army. It was fascinating to see that the castle had distant as well as more recent history.
That was my trip to Scotland. The last few days have just been filled with classes, reading, and getting settled in Cambridge. I actually saw the sun this afternoon, which I haven’t seen since the day I arrived. It is starting to warm up a bit here, but it is still pretty rainy. Well, that’s all for now. I’ll have more to update after this weekend.