Just a short drive outside of Edinburgh, Roslin is the perfect day trip to explore some history and nature. The small village is known across the world, thanks to the Da Vinci Code, and Dolly the sheep. For history lovers and explorers, Roslin is a great day trip from Edinburgh, which is well worth a visit.
Why is Roslin Famous?
Despite being only a small village, Roslin has two pretty big claims to fame!
For book and film lovers, you may recognise Rosslyn Chapel from the Da Vinci Code (by Dan Brown). The novel brings the main characters to Rosslyn Chapel which Dan Brown describes as ‘the most mysterious and magical chapel on earth’. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou filmed some of scenes inside Rosslyn Chapel for the 2006 film of The Da Vinci Code!
Roslin’s other claim to fame is from none other than Dolly the Sheep. Dolly (who now lives at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh) is the world’s first cloned sheep, and it was the nearby Roslin Institute which cloned Dolly!
Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446, and is beautifully decorated in the late Gothic style. The chapel is famous for its carved stonework which intrigues many of the visitors, because of some of its mysterious symbols. Whilst many of the carvings are religious, there are many that recount myths and legends, which are otherwise unknown. It took 40 years to build the chapel, as all the surfaces are covered in beautiful carvings.
There is also a visitors centre which looks at the history of the chapel, as well as its links to the Da Vinci code!
You can visit the chapel by guided tour, which should be booked in advance (tickets are £9.50 for adults, children under 17 are free). The chapel is a working church, so please be respectful. Note that photography isn’t allowed inside!
The ruins of Rosslyn Castle stand down by the River Esk. The first castle was built on this site in the early 14th century by the Sinclair family. During the War of the Rough Wooing in 1544, the castle was burned but it was then rebuilt.
Manuscripts from 1488 have been found in the castle, and now are in the National Library of Scotland. Among the five St Clair manuscripts around was the Rosslyn-Hay manuscript, which is believed to be the earliest work in Scots prose!
Although partly ruined, it’s still possible to live in the castle, and it is now let out as a holiday home (imagine an over night stay in a castle!!). To get to it, you cross the ‘high bridge’.
Roslin Gunpowder Mill Ruins
Nestled deep into Roslin Glen, the ruins of the Gunpowder Factory sit by the River Esk. The mills were used from 1804 – 1954.
The mill was once the main source of employment in the area, and was the largest gunpowder factory in the whole of Scotland! The mill supplied munitions to the battles and wars from Napoleonic to WWII. In World War 2, women ran the factory whilst their husbands were all at war!
The mills were closed in 1954, and most of the buildings were demolished, aside from a few which still stand today.
The ruins are accessible by a footpath through the glen, and signposted from the glen carpark and the chapel. It’s a lovely walk by the river, and there are some information panels once though the old mill gates which explains a little about the history and where to find the ruins.
Roslin Glen is a beautiful woodland area to explore, with riverside paths. The glen has plenty of history within it, with the ruins of Rosslyn Chapel and the gunpowder mills both hidden amongst the trees. There is a lovely walk, starting at Rosslyn Chapel car park, down through the woods and following the sign posts to the gunpowder mills, which brings you through the nature and along the course of the river.
How To Get to Roslin
Roslin is a really easy car ride from Edinburgh city, which takes around 25 minutes via the Bypass. Alternatively, there are plenty of bus routes from the city centre which can take you right into Roslin (Lothian Bus 37 or 140) . If you’re into cycling, you can follow the cycle route which signposts the way to Roslin!
Have you visited Roslin before?
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