Graves of Templars

I n a lonely Scottish graveyard, a passing visitor initially sees nothing special. However, a closer look at the Kilmartin slabs reveals a curious fact. Amidst the graves of Scottish families, buried there during the centuries, there are tombstones without a name. Eroded by centuries of rain and foul weather, these some 80 slabs have no inscription except the outline of a sword. These are reputedly graves of Templars, whose customary tombstone carried no information as to the identity of the knight buried under the slab - just his trusty sword.

W hen knights and other members of the Order were admitted to the Order, they gave vows of poverty and chastity. For most of the men, this also meant virtual obscurity and anonymity, as the good of the Order was put before everything else. Of course, there are documents that contain information on the leaders and dignitaries of the Order, but many of the perhaps 20,000 brothers who were in the Order during its existence left no information on themselves for posterity. On the other hand, there are graves such as some of those in the Templar Church in London, where there are effigies of knights erected on their tombs. Most Templars had their final rest in much scantier surroundings, such as those who were buried under the wall of the stronghold in Acre, along with their persecutors, when Acre fell to the Muslims in 1291.

I f you happen to wind up in Dublin, there is a church called St Michan's just north of the River Liffey. It is an extremely old church, well preserved, as it dates from the 11th century. There is a famous organ that Handel played, but more importantly, there is a vault below the church. In it there are four mummified corpses, and the guides would have you believe one of them was a Crusader. The bodies have been preserved remarkably well due to the use of magnesium lime in the vault's stonework, and the tannic acid present in the oak caskets the bodies were buried in. While I know well that it is not possible to verify the guides' view of the Crusader, the bodies are old and it is not every day you get a chance even to think you are face to face with a medieval man, let alone, possibly, a Templar.

P ost scriptum: The graves of Kilmartin have been extensively discussed in several Usenet newsgroups lately. Apparently the general consensus is that although the graves look real, they are not Templar graves [loud sigh], but either date from a later time, or are otherwise incompatible with Templar graves found elsewhere. Well then, the question arises: who do you believe in these things? You be the judge - I just pass on data I find.

N EWS FLASH! Aug 20 1996. I have just been told by Eibhear O h-Anluain that the St Michan's church vault was broken into in July, and most of the mummified remains have been destroyed by some mindless young vandals. Apparently they even practiced soccer on the head of a mummified girl. Considering how long the remains had survived in the unique environment of the church vault, I fail to see what punishment is available in modern judicial systems that would allow for an adequate sentencing of such utter criminals. This is certainly a great loss for all medieval history enthusiasts.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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