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.

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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.

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