The Knights Templar were a Catholic military order that was active just under 1,000 years ago. With their white mantles and red crosses, they quickly became notorious for their wealth, power, and abilities in combat during the Crusades. Today, they’re a source of fascination for archaeologists, novelists, and scriptwriters in equal measure, and any new discovery is pounced upon by anyone with a mote of curiosity in their storied history.
A few years back, a man-made cavern was discovered hiding beneath a farmer’s field in Shropshire, England. Initially, the only way into the concealed chamber was through a tiny rabbit hole, and, after some careful excavation, explorers found that they were standing in a previously unseen temple used by the Knights themselves.
Birmingham photographer Michael Scott decided to pay a visit to these mysterious caverns recently and document them in all their ancient glory on his camera, and it’s safe to say that this particular historical wonder is certainly a surreal sight to behold. You can see a walk-through of the cavern and church in the video below.
Stunningly well-preserved 700 years after they were originally carved out of the land, the order likely used this earthen temple as a place to hide, plot, worship, and scheme away from prying eyes.
The shape of the subterranean hideaway is rather specific, with circular naves prominently featured. This is thought to be because the Knights wanted their architecture to match that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the supposed burial place of Jesus Christ.
The caves were closed in 2012 after people, being generally quite terrible, covered some of the temple in graffiti and dumped a load of garbage down through the entrance. With special permission, however, some people are still allowed in to explore them.
This is just one of many uncovered Knights Templar sites around the world. Fortifications and artifacts can be found all across Europe and the Middle East, particular around the so-called “Holy Land”.
Michael Scott/Caters News
After Christian military forces were pushed back out of this hallowed region, support for the order began to wane. By the time France’s King Philip IV took power, the royal family was deeply indebted to the failing order, and rumors began to spread about them that sowed the seeds of distrust in the public.
With general opinion turning against them, the King order their arrest and torture in 1307. Using false confessions and presenting them to Pope Clement V as evidence of their treachery, the Knights Templar was finally disbanded in 1312 – and they’ve become a somewhat legendary and conspiratorial organization ever since.
[H/T: Shropshire Star]