Roslin Castle (Rosslyn Castle), Midlothian
~ History ~
1303 ~ A small force of Scottish Knights defeat a larger English army three times in 24 hours during the Wards of Independence.
1304 ~ William St Clair (Sinclair), Earl or Orkney, builds himself a stone castle to strengthen his families hold on their estates in the area.
1447 ~ An accidental fire destroys much of the buildings.
1544 ~ A deliberate fire by English troops under the Earl of Hertford cause further damage to the castle, as part of Henry VIII's "Rough Wooing" campaign to secure the marriage of his son Edward to infant Mary, Queen of Scots.
1563 ~ Mary Queen of Scots stays at the castle during her tour of south-west Scotland.
1651 ~ The castle is again attacked by English soldiers, this time by Cromwell's troops under General Monck. The attackers use cannons sited on higher ground to the north to negate the strength of the castle itself.
1688 ~ The family build for themselves a mansion within the shell of the castle, occupying the top two storeys of the five available in the east range of the castle. Despite the security of their remaining defences, their castle and home is attacked, by a mob from Edinburgh trying to destroy "popery". The house is later repaired.
~ Myths and Legends ~
The castle is said to be home to a sleeping lady who will one day awake and show the whereabouts of a fabulous treasure buried deep within its vaults. When this happens, the castle will again rise from its ruins.
A similar story of treasure surrounds the visit to Rosslyn Castle of a Count Poli from Italy in 1834, allegedly a descendant of the last Provost of Rosslyn Chapel who had been forced to flee to Italy after the Reformation of 1560. It is said that, following instructions written by his ancestor, he discovered the hiding place within the castle vaults of a hoard of manuscripts and books, hidden during the Reformation. It is also said he took many back to Italy with him, including a copy of a Latin history of Scotland from the beginning of the world until 1535, which is now said to be in the Vatican Library.
Rosslyn Castle is considered "home" to the mysterious order of Knights Templar. The Knights Templar had their origins in a small band of crusader knights who took upon themselves the task of keeping the Holy Land's roads safe and secure during the Crusades. Formed about 1115 by Hugh de Payens of Burgundy and eight other knights, the small band quickly won the favor of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem. After being granted the right to use part of the old Temple of Solomon as their headquarters, the Poor Knights of Christ began to be called Templars. Sinclair knights in the Crusades were among the early members of this mysterious organisation
Roslin, 9 miles South of Edinburgh
Rosslyn Castle is hidden away all but invisible unless you search for it. Most people are either unaware it even exists or have simply forgotten.
There are two ways of accessing the castle. The first is via the footpaths and track that descend from Rosslyn Chapel. The second is from the car park in Roslin Glen. Footpaths lead you over a bridge across the River and around the west side of a steep wooded promontory. Eventually a set of steps lead you up to the approach road to the castle, close to the bridge that is its only link with the outside world.
What you find is a remarkable, ruined, almost fairy-tale castle, occupying the high ground surrounded by ancient woodlands, ivy clad ruins and spectacular bridge.
The views of the castle from the bridge and the courtyard are breathtaking, yet to appreciate it fully you need to descend and pass under the bridge to begin exploring. Here a path takes you down towards the river, and allows you to appreciate the full five storeys or more of structure still standing when viewed from here.
If you cross thr bridge into the castle courtyard you will find a doorway through the outer walls and suddenly you feel you have stepped into an jungle and carved aztec ruins.
This is a fantastic place to explore, full of surprises and as its so hidden away, you are likely to have it all to yourself.