The Templars in Scotland
One of the most famous examples of Templar continuation is found in Scotland. While focus in recent times has centred on Rosslyn Chapel, there are many other places that have greater claims, particularly further north. Ironically, one of the best is the nearby castle, also owned by the St. Clairs. The castle dates back to around 1330, shortly after the time of the Templar demise, and continued to be used until around 1688, as mentioned in the novel. As traditional history confirms, Scotland was itself under excommunication at this time and some Templar commentators have even suggested that the Templars assisted the Scots in the Battle of Bannockburn, a claim that cannot be proven either way.
Of more interest is the known existence of vaults beneath the castle and the chapel. Exactly where and what they contain remains a mystery, probably even to the modern day descendents. The complex system of underground tunnels and vaults that are known to exist have been said to include everything from tombs of Templars in armour to stairways that lead to nowhere, adding to the location’s appeal and mystique. Of particular fascination, in close proximity to both the castle and chapel is a cave, hidden by a waterfall, that can only be entered by being lowered into a well. Its existence is incredible, and certainly adds fuel to suggestion that its existence was deliberate. Who knows, perhaps the family really did have something important to hide there.
In truth, many of the legends that have grown up around Rosslyn are a result of the lack of known facts of the location’s history, ignorance of which leads to more questions than answers. The location of the vaults, and the vaults themselves, mentioned in The Templar Agenda are fictitious, though they are inspired by many of the tales and the area’s legends, in addition to my own observations from my visits. The strange tale of Count Poli is a genuine story. It is mentioned in Jackson’s Tales of Roslin Castle – the book has not been printed since 1837. Writing in 1891 John James Wilson wrote of Jackson in his The Annals of Penicuik that his work ‘showed considerable historical research and a ready gift of weaving together truth and romance in a singularly attractive form’. Perhaps Rota Temporum is hidden somewhere in the Vatican Library – my searches on their website, unsurprisingly, came up with nothing.