THE historic home of Sir Walter Scott has unexpectedly found
itself on the Da Vinci Code trail after fans of the blockbuster
discovered its library is a remarkable copy of Rosslyn Chapel.
The writer commissioned craftsmen
in 1812 to create a replica of the Midlothian church - now
inundated with visitors from around the world after featuring in
Dan Brown's novel - for Abbotsford House, near Melrose.
Experts believe Scott may have
chosen Rosslyn's design to reflect his passion for medieval
But a controversial theory has
taken root among fans of the book that Scott may have taken the
secret of the Holy Grail with him to the grave.
They have grown convinced of
Scott's link to the Grail because of the library design and the
many references in his works to a "casket" and the Knights Templar
- two of the key clues in The Da Vinci Code, which was released as
a star-studded film.
Like many prominent citizens
Scott was also a Freemason having been initiated in Lodge St
Davids No 36 in Edinburgh. Freemasonry and Rosslyn Chapel are also
inextricably linked. Freemasonry ran in Scott's family as he has
been genetically linked to one of his forebears a Walter Scott who was a member of a
very unusual Scottish Lodge - The Haughfoot Lodge - which operated
from 1702 -1762. Walter Scott was related to the Scott of Gala
Family - The Laird of Gala being the Head.
An influx of visitors to
Abbotsford could not have come at a better time for the historic
Its trustees warned earlier this
year that it may have to close to the public permanently after low
visitor numbers left it in need of a £10 million donation to
ensure its future.
However, despite the interest
many fans of The Da Vinci Code are showing in Abbotsford, the
trustees admit they have failed to find a conclusive link between
Scott and the Holy Grail.
Jacquie Wright, the administrator
at Abbotsford, said yesterday: "We have had a number of people try
to make the connection between Sir Walter Scott and the Da Vinci
"It's been a very interesting
time for us here at Abbotsford. Obviously we've known all along
that the ceiling of the library is a detailed representation of
Rosslyn, but it's only been in the run-up to the release of the
film that people have started to call us and suggest there is a
The scepticism of the trustees
has not deterred numerous Da Vinci Code sleuths, who believe Scott
is the "missing link".
One website states: "The old
legend that the mummified corpses of St Clair Knights Templar are
lying in their full armour on plinths in the vault, with no
coffins, is referred to by Sir Walter Scott in The Lay of the Last
According to experts, there is no
doubt Scott was fascinated by Rosslyn because of it's masonic
associations which as a Freemason he would be better enabled than
most to understand and the myths and legends of the Knights
Ms Wright went on: "We have
looked at the connections people are making between Scott and the
claims in The Da Vinci Code very closely indeed.
"However, we're sorry to say we
were not convinced there was a real connection. After all, the
book is a work of fiction which makes some pretty big claims about
the life of Christ.
"But anyone interested in The Da
Vinci Code would find Abbotsford fascinating. Not only is the
library ceiling a replica of the Rosslyn Chapel, but there are
other symbols of freemasonry around the house."
Professor Douglas Gifford, an
expert in Scottish literature and one of the trustees of
Abbotsford, confirmed Scott, as well as fellow arts figures of the
day including Turner and Wordsworth, had a deep interest in
He revealed: "We actually almost
lost Scott at Rosslyn as he fell badly there and only saved
himself by clinging on to a tree.
"I have looked through the claims
very carefully, but unfortunately for all the conspiracy theorists
I have to conclude there is nothing much in it.
"However, the stories don't do
any harm, especially if people follow their noses to Abbotsford to
see what all the fuss is about.
"After all, Dan Brown's book is a
work of fiction and people are coming in their droves to Rosslyn
so there's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't continue their
Da Vinci Code trail to Scott's home at Abbotsford."
Gabi Rigardo, a tour guide who
regularly brings Italian visitors to Abbotsford, said: "More and
more visitors I bring here know there is a link. They think it is
"But I don't tell them Sir Walter
Scott is directly connected to the Da Vinci Code, but whenever I
show visitors the ceiling in the library the first thing they ask
is about the book."
The trustees of Abbotsford may
have to invest in a new car park if the predicted rush to Melrose
materialises this summer. Halifax Travel Insurance predicted last
night that 700,000 new UK visitors will flock to Rosslyn Chapel
following the release of the film.
Larry Furlong, curator at
Abbotsford, in the library, where the ceiling is a copy of the one
in Rosslyn Chapel.
Picture: Ian Rutherford