An Account of the Chapel of Roslin – 1778

First published 1774. Reprinted 1778.
This edition 2002. 52 pages.
Seven engraved plates and one ground plan.
Written by Dr Robert Forbes, Bishop of Caithness.

This edition edited by:
Brother Robert L. D. Cooper, BA, FSA (Scot),
Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library.
ISBN: 0 902 324 61 6 Paperback. Price: £5.00.

Readers might wish to know that the Grand Lodge of Scotland has published An Account of the Chapel of Roslin (more usually spelt Rosslyn) which was first published in 1774 and again in 1778. The Account is an 18th century guidebook describing, in the main, the interior of the chapel. The Grand Lodge of Scotland reproduced the Account because it was extremely difficult to obtain and because repeated requests had been received for copies of this rare work. For a review of the booklet please read on:


An Account... is one of the works often quoted by authors who offer a variety of hypotheses regarding Rosslyn Chapel, the Knights Templar, Scottish Freemasonry etc. and alleged connections between these but the booklet was extremely difficult to obtain and was only to be found in a few specialist libraries.

This publication provides and insight to how Rosslyn Chapel was perceived during the latter part of the 18th century and is revealing as much for what it does not say as for what it does describe.

The reviewer, a Rosslyn Templar, has been asked – “have authors made good, correct or full use of the information provided by Bishop Forbes?” His answer is that none have quoted this work at all and have merely listed it in their bibliographies at the back of their books. We, like him, are disappointed in this because anyone interested in Rosslyn Chapel has, in our view, a responsibility to do more than simply list sources which are not at all used in the publication concerned. For this reason alone this booklet is worth having in order to be able to read a ‘major’ source (ab)used by several authors.

There are several engravings in this booklet which are most interesting (not least the stylised depiction of the Apprentice Pillar) for a variety of reasons but which are cannot be discussed here but a question remains as to whether, or not, these images have been used accurately when they have been used at all.

The Account… is a most interesting work and a useful comparison to what is presently available regarding the Chapel. Anyone interested in Rosslyn Chapel should have a copy of this publication on their bookshelf. It is available from Amazon:

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