ROSLIN, Scotland — Like a plot from The Da Vinci Code, a team of code breakers claims to have found music hidden for 500 years in intricate carvings at the church where author Dan Brown set the climax of the best-selling book.Father-and-son team Thomas and Stuart Mitchell say they deciphered a musical code hewn into stone cubes on the ribs supporting the ceiling of Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin, near Edinburgh.
“Breaking the code was a true eureka moment. It’s like we have been given a compact disc from the past,” said Stuart Mitchell, 41, a music teacher from Edinburgh. “But unlike the fiction of The Da Vinci Code, this is a tangible link to the past.”
The music has been recorded, and will get its premiere in the chapel May 18.
Musical experts reserved judgment, but did not dismiss the Mitchells’ theory.
“We have 213 cubes [at Rosslyn] and the possibility that they have something to say is by no means implausible,” said Warwick Edwards, an expert on early Scottish music at Glasgow University.
More research is needed, he said.
Gordon Munro, an expert on Scottish church music from 1500 to 1700 at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, said, “I have heard the music and it is not impossible, but it can only be a reconstruction that is open to interpretation.”
“There is a series of shapes they are using, but I could not say if they would read the notes on the chapel ceiling from left to right or up and down,” Munro said.
The Mitchells’ research centered on the ribs of a ceiling in the Lady Chapel. Rows of carved angels play instruments above the columns of cubes.
The elder Mitchell, 75, was a code breaker for the Royal Air Force during the Korean War. He said he spent 25 years working at the puzzle.
“Many of the angels had musical instruments and some were arranged as a choir, but there was one angel we couldn’t work out,” he said. “Then we realized she was carrying a musical stave, the lined blueprint for musical composition, and therefore we were looking at a coded piece of music.”
Built by Sir Gilbert Haye and Sir William Sinclair. Steeped in the traditions of the Knights Templar and Freemasonry.
Elaborate decoration and mysterious symbolism have inspired many legends, among them that the building is a replica of Solomon’s Temple and that it is the resting place of the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant or even the mummified head of Jesus.
“Rosslyn Motet” audio sample
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