Thursday, November 02, 2006

Relics of the Templars unearthed

Something for DaVinci Code enthusiasts:

Found in 1742 near Royston, Cambridgeshire, and open to the public, this cave shows signs of being a secret meeting place of the Knights Templar in the 1300's. According to an article in the Cambridge Evening News, every inch of the wall space is filled with carving, from finely-wrought images to rough graffiti. Various figures and symbols are clues to the cave's history. There are the saints - Christopher, Catherine, George. There's Jesus and his disciples. And there's a shrine to a heretic, being burned at the stake. This could be Jacques de Moray, the Templars' last Grand Master.

The original entrance was through a long, thin shaft, through which the knights climbed, using a series of toe-holes.

"The top would have been hidden inside a safehouse," explains Peter Houldcroft, whose archeological survey revealed that the cave is orientated to the East - to the point at which the sun rises on the saint's day of John the Baptist, the patron of the Templars.

The Templars extended the cave, decorated the walls with symbolic carvings and erected a wooden platform, half-way up the wall, to act as both a stepping platform (down to the cave floor) and a waiting area for the uninitiated.

When life as a Templar (even a secret life as a Templar) became too tough, in the late 1340s, they abandoned the cave, scratching out some of the most incriminating carvings and filling it in with earth. And so it remained, unchanged and undisturbed, for 400 years.

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