The west facade of Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, is profusely ornamented with large counterfort buttresses inset with statue-bearing niches, a cruciform rose window with four roughly heart-shaped panels, and a decorative architrave or parapet covered with geometric and floral motifs.
Dorothy Wordsworth expressed concern over its condition:
"We ordered dinner on our return to the inn, and went to view the inside of the Chapel of Roslin, which is kept locked up, and so preserved from the injuries it might otherwise receive from idle boys; but as nothing is done to keep it together, it must in the end fall. The architecture within is exquisitely beautiful. The stone both of the roof and walls is sculptured with leaves and flowers, so delicately wrought that I could have admired them for hours, and the whole of their groundwork is stained by time with the softest colours. Some of those leaves and flowers were tinged perfectly green, and at one part the effect was most exquisite: three or four leaves of a small fern, resembling that which we call adder's tongue, grew round a cluster of them at the top of a pillar, and the natural product and the artificial were so intermingled that at first it was not easy to distinguish the living plant from the other, they being of an equally determined green, though the fern was of a deeper shade."
Saturday 17 September in Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland 1803, by Dorothy Wordsworth.
- 21 September 1446 - Founded by Sir William St Clair, whose family were powerful Scots nobles, Earls of Orkney and ambassadors to the French court. St Clair brought masons and artisans from across Europe to work at Rosslyn.
- 21 September 1450 - Officially dedication to Saint Matthew.
- 1592 - Oliver St Clair ordered to destroy the altars of Rosslyn, it being described as a "house and monument of idolatrie."
- 1736 - Windows glazed by Sir James Sinclair, the roof is repaired and the floor is relaid with flagstones.
- 1860's - The Fourth Earl of Rosslyn, Grand Master Mason of Scotland, replaced many of the damaged carvings, changed a number of other stone features and inserted stained glass, painted railings, a central altar and pews.
- 2004 - The chapel is a location visited by symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu seeking clues and the solution to "The Da Vinci Code" in the Dan Brown novel.
- 2006 - The Da Vinci Code film.