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 human-made cavern was discovered hiding beneath a farmer’s field in Shropshire, England before being sealed up in 2012 to prevent trespassers. Initially, the only way into the Canyon Caves was through a tiny rabbit hole, and their original purpose is much disputed, with some claims they revealed 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 glory on his camera, and it’s safe to say that this particular historical wonder is certainly a surreal sight to behold. Despite some attempts to link them to the Knights Templar in the 17th century, in reality, it is thought it dates from the 18th or 19th centuries and was most likely built as a Victorian folly.
The caves were closed in 2012 after people, being generally quite terrible, covered some of the ruins 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.
There are many actual Knights Templar sites around the world. Fortifications and artifacts can be found all across Europe and the Middle East, particularly 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.
Correction: This article has been updated to remove any suggestion the discovery of the caves was recent or that there is any real evidence linking it to the Knights Templar.