Midlothian’s 100 Objects

The Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn Chapel
The Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn Chapel

No1. The Apprentice Pillar

Midlothian may be one of the smallest counties in Scotland but it boasts a rich and varied history.

The Advertiser is introducing a new weekly feature highlighting the places and objects which tell Midlothian’s story.

To launch the feature we are focussing on the Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn Chapel.

There is nothing quite like it else where in the world and its story attracts visitors to Roslin from across the world.

Readers are invited to send in photos, with a brief description, of their own or favourite Midlothian objects be they large or small.

Email them to midlothianadvertiser@jnlothian.co.uk

The historical Rosslyn Chapel attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world, and many travel to see the famous Apprentice Pillar.

The 8ft tall pillar is made out of sandstone and features many intricate carvings.

For instance at the bottom of the pillar there is a row of dragons which are said to be a link back to the Sinclair family’s Viking roots.

Ian Gardner, Rosslyn Chapel Trust director, said: “One of the best known legends is that the master mason was looking for inspiration for this. He couldn’t come up with anything and so asked the family if he could go travelling overseas to gather some inspiration.

“He went off travelling around Europe. When he was away, the apprentice had a vision about how the pillar should be and the family said they didn’t know the master mason would ever return.

“So the pillar was done by the apprentice and look at the detail and quality. You would think it was done by someone who had years of expertise in stone carving.”

Mr Gardner added: “The master mason did come back and rather than being pleased that his apprentice had come up with this piece of art, he was furious. He attacked the apprentice striking him with a mallet and killed him.

“The master mason was then put to death because of the murder of the apprentice.

“The work of art was the downfall of both of them.”