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The 'Rosslyn Cubes'

Dear Friends,

Perhaps it would help if I gave a brief history of the modern interest in the 'Rosslyn Cubes' as I know it.

When I first visited the chapel in November 1992 with a photographer, thanks to the good offices on Niven and Judy Fisken (then the curator), we were given free access for several days when the chapel was closed to the public.

We found out that there was no catalogue or list of the carvings and that the guidebook was out of print. We began a comprehensive photographic survey of all the carvings, which took over a year, and I wrote a guidebook which was later published by The Friends of Rosslyn.

I was intrigued by the cubes which project from the ribs which traverse the bays of the retro-choir. Each one is carved on five sides with a variety of geometric designs in some form of meaningful pattern. A reasonable photograph of these can be seen in my later publication 'The Templar Legacy and Masonic Inheritance within Rosslyn Chapel', see figure 15. Later Niven gave me a book on the Celtic origins of the Grail Search which used geometric patterns which replicated some of those seen on the cubes. I was fascinated.

In a lecture on Roslyn Chapel given by myself in London in 1994, I made a comment that these patterns or geometric designs obviously had some meaning and needed further investigation.

The problems of deciphering the hidden message within the cubes in not simply one of deciphering the meaning of the symbols, but is complicated by two further factors: in which order are the cubes to be read and, in which order are the symbols on the sides of each cube to be taken.

Stephen Prior, who was present at that lecture, commissioned a photographer to take pictures of every single cube and map their position in the chapel. He employed two people with Ph.D.s and used a computer decryption programme, apparently to no avail. He was working on the assumption that the symbols were musical in nature. 

This idea is not as crazy as it seems as it is reported that the Egyptians used music to energise their temples. Later, when running the ill-fated Templar Lodge Hotel at Gullane, Prior offered a monetary prize to anyone who solved the puzzle of the cubes. To the best of my knowledge and belief no one ever successfully claimed the reward.

Whether the symbols are musical or not, I,  for one, do not know. What I surmise, in the light of Jim Naples' refutation of the recent newspaper article, is that some colleague of Prior's has placed the story either to generate interest or to simply earn a few pennies.

However, the story is not over yet. When Marilyn and I went to Rosslyn in June of 1997 or 1998 to take photographs for 'Rosslyn Guardian of the Secrets of the Holy Grail', Marilyn was at a loose end as pointed my box-brownie at the various carvings we needed as illustrations. Her knowledge of medieval symbolism is almost as good as my own, but she has an added talent - superb spiritual insight. Within a short space of time she had discovered the key to the order in which the cubes are to be read.

When the designs on the cubes are plotted in the revealed order, repeating patterns emerge in the symbols which may well, to any good cryptographer or cryptographic computer programme, reveal the hidden message within the carvings.

We are prepared to share our insights with any interested party of repute subject only to a binding and enforceable contract containing two main conditions i.e. that any knowledge so revealed shall be placed in the public domain where it rightly belongs and that Marilyn and I be given the right to publish the findings first.

Best wishes

Tim Wallace-Murphy