Rosslyn set to close the shutters on camera use

IT is one of the most iconic and mysterious buildings in the Lothians, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

The popularity of Rosslyn Chapel has soared in recent times thanks in part to the exposure gained from Dan Brown's bestselling book The Da Vinci Code.

But while Hollywood director Ron Howard had exclusive access to the 15th-century building, the public will soon find using cameras inside is off-limits.

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Chapel bosses have announced that from January 2, visitors will no longer be allowed to take photographs or videos of the ancient interior – for health and safety reasons. The chapel's director revealed that the restrictions after a number of people had tripped or fallen while gazing up at the ornate carvings on the ceiling.

The ancient floor of the dimly lit chapel building, which dates back to 1446, has many cracked or uneven slabs which can be a tripping hazard. And while no-one has yet sustained a serious injury, the concern led to bosses ordering a health and safety review, which suggested the best way to avoid any accidents was to impose the ban on using cameras.

Colin Glynne-Percy, the director of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said:

"I would hope that people come to see the chapel, not just to video it, so I would expect visitor numbers to be unchanged. The problem is one we have had for quite a while, because the chapel is quite dimly lit and there are cracked and uneven slabs.

"When you then have a large group of people all wandering around looking at the little screens on digital cameras and not where they are going it can lead to people tripping and stumbling.

"In the past we have used tape to cordon off some of the worst areas, but we took the decision to have a health and safety review carried out and on the basis of that it was decided that this would be the best course of action to take."

While visitor numbers have dipped slightly from last year, staff said they had still seen more than 160,000 people come through the doors in 2007. Earlier this year, the trust was awarded grants of more than 7 million from Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for repairs.

Local councillor Owen Thompson said: "It does seem perhaps a little extreme, and I think it will be a disappointment to a lot of visitors because there is so much interest within the chapel and a lot of people will want to take home their own pictures.

"I do not see it affecting visitor numbers though, as it is such an interesting and historic building."