The real Da Vinci Code: Unearthing a hidden melody.

A 500-year-old message in stone.
May 18 2011 7:01 AM

The Rosslyn Code

Unearthing a hidden melody.

This series is now available as an e-book for your Kindle.  Download it today.

(Continued from Page 1)

Is all of this just wishful thinking? To decide for myself whether the Mitchells were on to something or whether they were just hearing what they wanted to hear, I independently coded each carving while in the Rosslyn Chapel. In all but a few cases, I categorized the symbol on the ceiling the same way the Mitchells did. There are perhaps 10 cubes out of 213 that I do not think were correctly coded, though in some cases it's really a judgment call. (Most of the cubes are remarkably preserved, but a few haven't held up as well.) Regardless, these differences aren't significant enough to make more than minor alterations to the melody. Independently matching Chladni patterns to the symbols was trickier work for all the same reasons it was tricky for the Mitchells, but I was still able to make matches for most of the cubes. In short, I don't think Tommy and Stuart have conjured a tune out of thin air.  

Stuart Mitchell, too, was satisfied: After months and months of puzzling through the morass of sandstone symbols, he believed he had unlocked the secret music of the Rosslyn Chapel.

To hear piano renditions of five of Stuart Mitchell's melodies, click on the interactive feature below. These melodies (and eight others) form the basis for Mitchell's "Rosslyn Motet." Each melody was derived from a sequence of sandstone cubes that appears above a representation of an angel. The angels are depicted singing (the second melody from the top) or playing an instrument: the lute (top), the recorder (third), the shawm (fourth), and the bagpipes (fifth).

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.