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That Time We Looked for Tom Hanks in Rosslyn, Scotland.


To tell you the truth I have no idea how this all started…

About a week or two into our time in St Andrews, in September 2012, we had a small group that was already forming and we decided to go out and explore Scotland. T and I were really into travelling and seeing as much as Scotland as possible – you can read about our excursion with her dad to see Glamis Castle and Scone Palace here. We both LOVE castles, so we planned on seeing as many as possible. Somehow we got it into our heads that we wanted to see Rosslyn Castle – don’t ask me why, I have no idea!

We didn’t even really look it up, but we told all our friends. Finally, our group of 5 headed out one rainy morning. We took the train into Edinburgh and from there – since we didn’t know where we were heading – asked the bus information office next to the train station where to take the bus to head to the Rosslyn Castle. Here was our exchange:

Me: So where do we take the bus to go to Rosslyn Castle?
Info guy: Rosslyn Castle?
Me: Yes, the castle.
Info guy: Hm do you mean Rosslyn Chapel?
Me: No no, I mean the castle.
*He looks at me weirdly.*
Info guy: Hm well to head to the Chapel you take so and so bus on Princes Street.

I laughed at his ignorance with the others and we headed to where he had pointed out. It started raining at that point and it poured down for the 45 minutes we waited for the bus to arrive. Thank god for bus stop shelters. We took the bus and after everyone had exited and there was only us left in the bus, the driver pointed out that we were finally here and let us out in the middle of a tiny little town.  We had a nice warming lunch with tea at the local hotel pub (Note: I love having lunch sitting on a couch, nothing can make the experience feel more personal).  Finally, we headed out and walked down a long road that lead to the Rosslyn Chapel.


gorgeous view on the scottish countryside


The two boys who were with us were actually really excited about Rosslyn Chapel because it was featured in the movie Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks. They started raving about Tom Hanks and the quest they wanted to do following his movies (like swim in the North Sea with a volley-ball and recreate the ‘Wilson’ scene). It’s needless to say that this day was forever known as our Tom Hanks Pilgrimage (witty title for which I cannot take credit).

We bought discounted tickets (yay for being a student in Scotland) and headed to see the chapel. It was actually really gorgeous! I would recommend the detour outside of Edinburgh to go see it.

rosslyn_chapel_1 rosslyn_chapel_3 rosslyn_chapel_4 rosslyn_chapel_5 rosslyn_chapel_6


You can feel the awkwardness of burgeoning friendships.  Photo courtesy of Tamara E.


Sadly no pictures were permitted inside the chapel, but it was gorgeous.


I was able to sneak in a little photo of the chapel kitty.

However, the main building included an exposition on the history of the Chapel and we were able to learn more about the chapel. You can catch a sneak peek of the inside by the first picture.


When we walked into the chapel, we were asked to be seated and the guide then told us about the history of the chapel. It was built in the 15th century and was then known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew. It seems to have been in the ownership of the Earl of Rosslyn ever since. Moreover, it has, for decades, been the site of many theories that it could be linked to Freemasonry, the Knight’s Templar and the Holy Grail. Very intriguing!  They mentioned the fact that Hollywood came to the Chapel and even left its mark since they had stuck something round on a wall and there was still a round mark on the wall years later. They also shared the incredible story behind the two pillars that stand in the chapel, the legend of the Master and the Apprentice. The legend says that the master did not believe his apprentice good enough to build such a pillar and because of jealousy, ended up killing his apprentice. They also say that the master’s face has been engraved in his pillar so he would have to look at the apprentice’s pillar forever.

After the talk, we explored the chapel a bit more. We looked more closely at the pillars and even explored the crypt. The carvings in the walls and frames were absolutely amazing! Also, the two boys went ahead and asked the guide about Tom Hanks and the Da Vinci Code and she was apparently really aggravated by the questions. But they were on their quest after all!

When we were finally done visiting the chapel and taking pictures of its exterior, we headed toward the exit. But not without asking where the castle was! We didn’t forget! They looked at us like we were crazy and told us it was a 15-minute walk down the dirt road on the left of the property. Because it was our goal after all, we headed down the dirt road in search of that castle. Obviously, it started raining as we were walking down the road. Nothing could deter us.


This road looks legit…   Photo courtesy of Tali K.

Finally we made it and this was what we were greeted with.


Photo courtesy of Tali K.

We laughed so hard because we finally understood why people were looking at us weirdly throughout the day. There was literally only a wall left. There were gorgeous surroundings though – despite the rain it was such a wonder to behold. It stood on the side of a cliff, facing a forest and there was a bridge to reach the property. You could only imagine what it could have looked like when it was whole.

Finally we made the trip back to Edinburgh and waited, with tea and cake, to catch the train back to St Andrews. That was the story of our first Scottish outing and our first failed castle sighting.



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