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Rosslyn Chapel Apprentice Pillar

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Rosslyn Chapel Apprentice Pillar About 1860

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This photograph was taken in Rosslyn Chapel, a fifteenth-century church in the village of Roslin, to the south of Edinburgh. Famous for its Masonic architecture and symbolism, and its possible connections to Freemasonry, the chapel has even been suggested as the resting place of the Holy Grail. Its roof is supported by thirteen columns, the most famous of which is the Apprentice Pillar. Legend has it that it was carved by a young apprentice whilst the master mason was away researching the design of the pillar. On his return the mason, who did not expect to find it finished so beautifully, killed the apprentice in a fit of jealousy. The design is said to be inspired by Norse legend and shows eight dragons at the base of the pillar from whose mouths spring vines that wind around the pillar.

Glossary Open


Freemasonry is an oath-bound brotherhood of men who meet as groups, or Lodges, all over the world. The order is thought to originate from English and Scottish fraternities of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in medieval times.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Freemasonry, Symbolism


  • Acc. No. PGP R 141
  • Medium Albumen print
  • Size 21.90 x 27.00 cm
  • Credit Gift of Mrs. Riddell in memory of Peter Fletcher Riddell, 1985