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'Da Vinci Code' lures tourists to chapel

Aug. 8, 2005 at 8:28 PM   |   Comments

ROSLIN, Scotland, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The former curator of a 15th century Scottish chapel warns that the thousands of visitors lured by its role the "The Da Vinci Code" could destroy it.

"The headache will not simply be crowd control and concern of footfall through the building," Judith Fisken said in a letter to the editor of The Scotsman. "It will be souvenir hunters removing pieces of stone, taking rubbings, carving their initials and generally leaving litter."

Rosslyn Chapel, six miles south of Edinburgh, has already seen the number of annual visitors increase from 38,000 to 68,000 because of the novel. The upcoming movie, starring Tom Hanks and partly filmed at the chapel, is expected to bring even more.

The chapel, measuring only 69 feet long and 35 feet wide, was founded in 1446 by Sir William St. Clair, the last St. Clair prince of Orkney. Dan Brown, the novel's author, described the chapel as "the cathedral of codes" and there have long been rumors that the Knights Templar hid some of their secrets there.

Stuart Beattie, the current director of the chapel, said he expects to be able to handle any influx of visitors, possibly by requiring timed tickets for entrance.

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