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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Lothian

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Myths and Legends
From Jerusalem to Rosslyn?: The Templars in Scotland

Is there any truth behind these claims?
angelic bagpiper
Angel Carving
illustration of carving at Rosslyn
© Scran
The legend that the Templars fought at Bannockburn is a popular one and has been repeated so often that many consider it to be an established fact. However, historians agree that there is no evidence confirming the Templars’ participation in the battle. The source of the story comes from reports that the English were winning until an unknown force joined the Scottish side and forced the English to retreat. The unknown force is said to have been made up of the exiled Templars. Those who believe in the story have argued that there is no written evidence to support their claims because written records were later destroyed. However, sceptics argue that the story of the Templars at Bannockburn is a romantic myth, and goes back no further than the late 20th Century.

It is important to remember when considering the story of the fugitive Templars, that there had been a Templar presence in Scotland since David I granted the order lands. Temple in Midlothian was the main Scottish House of the Templars. Those who believe that the Templars fled to Rosslyn argue that the proximity of Temple to Rosslyn adds weight to their claims. It is possible that some Templars managed to escape arrest in France and fled the country. However, many of the Knights in France offered little or no resistance to their arrest, a fact that has been the source of much speculation to historians. One suggestion is that the Knights in France were the older members of the order who were essentially administrators. Indeed, in Cyprus, where many of the younger Templars in active service were stationed, there was resistance to the arrests and fighting took place. Others have seen a deeper motive to the Templars’ apparent willingness to give themselves up in France- they were sacrificing themselves to protect their secret. In any case, the majority of the order in France were captured, and the number of escapees is likely to have been small.

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