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Book Review -

The Temple and the Lodge

by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh

E laborating upon an idea first suggested in their famous book, "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," Baigent and Leigh in "The Temple and the Lodge" attempt to answer the question of what became of those Knights Templar who escaped arrest in 1307 and following. Their contention is that many of them went, via Ireland, to Scotland where they joined the renegade and excommunicated Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, ultimately providing him with the margin of victory in the decisive Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 some three months after the execution in Paris of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Baigent and Leigh further contend that a recognizable survival of the Knights Templar hidden within the Knights Hospitaller under royal protection then continued in Scotland for more than two centuries. Finally, with their lands expropriated by a venial government official, at least some elements of the Knights Templar are said by Baigent and Leigh to have gradually blended into the emerging system of Freemasonry and its lodges beginning in the sixteenth century.

T his makes for exciting reading, but is it history? No, it is not; it is an historical conjecture with elements of plausibility. But it is an appealing conjecture and the telling of it takes the reader through many centuries of fascinating history, both in Scotland and in England. En route one speculates on the disappearance of the Templar fleet; takes a peek at Templar holdings in Ireland ; witnesses the Battle of Bannockburn where a mysterious force charges in at the crucial moment to defeat the English; stops in at Kilmartin to view over eighty apparently Templar graves; visits Rosslyn Chapel to see Templar and Masonic symbolism carved together in stone in the mid fifteenth century; is present at the founding of the Invisible College and the Royal Society; conspires with the Jacobites to put the Stuarts back on the throne of England; and finally crosses the Atlantic to take part in the American Revolution.

B ut what is the Templar legacy inherited by the Freemasons? Curiously, Baigent and Leigh have remarkably little to say on the subject. It seems to involve sacred geometry and architecture and the building of King Solomon's Temple, but these are ideas that Freemasonry could have easily acquired from its traditional roots in the operative stonemason guilds of medieval England and Scotland. Certainly the legacy is esoteric and philosophical, but in pursuing it Baigent and Leigh seem to be limited by their lack of knowledge of Freemasonry. However, another book which appeared about the same time, "Born in Blood" by John Robinson may serve to complement "The Temple and the Lodge." Robinson's version of this same general thesis is more simplistic and less historically convincing, but he has far greater knowledge of Masonic ritual and symbolism and uses it to suggest its Templar (and French) origins. The historical evidence gathered by Baigent and Leigh combined with Robinson's internal evidence from Freemasonry make a more compelling case than either book by itself.

T he jury is still out on the theories of Baigent and Leigh, and of John Robinson, and for now must, fittingly enough, return the Scotch verdict of "not proven" on their work. But if you read "The Temple and the Lodge" you will never view the Templars, the Freemasons and Scottish history quite the same again.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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