A beautiful Sunday morning with blue skies overhead and a biting cold wind. What else could a Scotsman ask for 7 days after New Year to clear his head?
This was to be the first of the 7 Stars School Cultural visits of 2006 and I was very honoured that my friend John had consented to be our guide and mentor for our visit to Rosslyn Chapel.
Chev.John Ritchie KGOTpl, who for 18 years was the Media Officer to the Templar Order in Scotland and has travelled the world as a journalist for Reuters, agreed to meet me at the Chapel.
Although I had restricted the numbers of visitors from the School to twenty four, thirty two people in total turned up early at our meeting point and were very eager to get started. While they were wandering around the Chapel grounds I went in search for John. Having known John for many years, he still never ceases to amaze me with his depth of specialist knowledge in Scottish history.
His Knights Templar connection (Militi Templi Scotia, the Scottish Knights Templar) received its lineage from Alexander Deuchar circa 1790. This Order has been recognized since then, and functions in a Jacobite archive and philosophy. John has been a member of MTS for over 20 years, the Grand Herald and press spokesman.
Regarding the Militi Templi Scotia, John states “Our raison d’ etre has always been to protect Scotland’s Heritage and Culture, and to debunk objects like Stones of Scone becoming the Stone of Destiny, or the monks heart in a piece of lead gutter piping becoming the Bruce heart”.
On meeting John, I had arranged to have our group at the rear of the Chapel where I could introduce him and we could start our tour. Not for John. He walked straight to the stairs at the top of the crypt and started his talk. Within two minutes, every visitor walking around the inside of the Chapel had his attention.
With torch in hand, John illuminated structures and sculptures it may have taken years to find. As he said “I come here frequently with my daughter and have done so for many years playing a game of find the animal – I’m still finding new ones!” We saw monkeys, camels, Abyssinian Tigers (!) fish, and many more – each with its own story. Theories of Rosslyn Aliens (they got Roswell mixed up), Holy Grails’ and Dan Baker were debunked.
For over two and a half hours, the Pied Piper led us from the crypt, through the Chapel and around it’s exterior with people hanging on to every bit of information John divulged. It was becoming bitterly cold and some of the group decided to renege by retreating to the little café or back inside the Chapel. We also picked up others for different groups that wanted John to sign books they bought on the subject of Rosslyn.
To round off the day, a pleasant hot meal was served up in the “Glen” (hotel) where we continued talking before returning home.
Everyone agreed it was a wonderful day with an exceptional man and have already requested that it is soon repeated.
My heartfelt thanks go to my friend for his time, knowledge and company.
Those interested in further information may wish to click on the site below:
Also look out for:
A library in stone – Alan Butler and John Ritchie
Extent: 260pp, Size: 230 x 153mm (6 x 9in)
Paperback, 8 pages colour illustrations, 40 b/w photos, carton qty: 24
This book is not yet published. Estimated date in stock is Friday 27 October 2006.
More information please click here