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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

What about Templar links with Rosslyn? Many authoritative reports acknowledge that the Templars built Rosslyn, despite the order having been suppressed nearly two centuries earlier. The stories go that the Sinclair family were involved with Templarism, and Sir William Sinclair, using principles of sacred geometry, based the construction of Rosslyn on the Temple of Solomon.
Prince Henry Sinclair
The first Earl of Orkney, Prince Henry Sinclair, is the said to have discovered America 500 years before Columbus. Evidence for this journey comes from the so called ‘Zeno Narrative’, a map published in Venice in 1558 detailing an expedition by a Prince called ‘Zichmni’, and from carvings in Rosslyn Chapel which are said to depict plants from the New World that were unknown in Britain at the time of Rosslyn’s construction. Although the legend has become accepted as fact by many, doubters are not convinced of the authenticity of the Zeno document. No contemporary source mentions Henry’s voyages, and neither of his 16th Century biographers make reference to his expeditions, despite painting a heroic portrait and credititing him with military victories that he did not participate in. It was not until 1780 that Henry Sinclair was identified as being Zichmni by a travel writer, John Reinhold Forster. His theory was not popular, but was taken up again almost a century later by a map maker called Richard Henry Major. It has been argued that Major distorted the original Zeno narrative, reinterpreting the facts to fit the hypothesis that Sinclair was Zichmni.
Several of the carvings in the chapel are thought to have Templar connections, and there are Templar graves in the chapel. Some writers believe that the carvings form a secret message, which, if decoded, would reveal the Templar secrets. However, sceptics argue that a lot of the ‘Templar’ symbolism has been misinterpreted. Many of the symbols are biblical in origin, and are not necessarily proof of a Templar connection. As to the Templar graves, again, it is argued that the heraldic symbols on the stones have been misidentified as Templar.

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Your comments

1 Mark Oxbrow from Glasgow, Scotland - 26 January 2004
"'many authoritative reports' - nonsense! These false claims are only forwarded in alternative pseudo-histories. You may as well claim Rosslyn was built by elves! There is in fact more 'evidence' that elves were involved than Templars! Templar theories of Rosslyn are entirely fictional and the gravestones are well attested as gravestones of Scottish knights NOT templar knights. "

2 Chris Brown from St. Andrews - 26 January 2004
"There is absolutely NOT ONE SHRED of evidence to support the idead that Robert I gave sanctuary to Templars or that Templars were involved at the battle of Bannockburn. Why do I feel strongly about this? Because, as a Scottish medievlaist, I am continually asked about it! People see these rubbishy novels or read nonsensical articles in the paper and then say "Isn't that interesting?" No it is not!There are plenty of good books about medieval Scotland - Professors Nicholson and Barrow have written a few! "

3 Alex from Lancashire - 18 December 2003
"Originally, the only markings on a templars grave were the outline of his sword carved into the stone. Examples can be seen in Rosslyn chapel but there are many that can be found along the west coast of Scotland. There are five (if I remember right) that can be seen standing upright near the church in Clachan - a small village on the Mull of Kyntyre. That is some support to the theory that at least some of the templar fleet landed in Scotland."

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