(The Calgary Herald): TREASURE HUNTERS SNIFFING HOLY GRAIL. "HALIFAX, CANADA-There's a sudden revival of interest in the Oak Island mystery and new theories about the fabled money pit that has baffled treasure hunters for more than two centuries. Two new books explore the latest speculation and one is a shocker. It suggests Oak Island might hold the lost treasure of the Knights Templar, a trove touted as so fabulous it could contain the Holy Grail.
William Crooker author of a new book on Oak Island, shifts attention away from Triton Alliance, the company that owns the land around the money pit and toward Fred Nolan, a rival treasure hunter who owns the northcentral part of the island. Nolan discovered a sandstone boulder and cone shaped granite rocks on his land. On a map, lines connecting the rocks create a huge Christian cross more than 250 meters long. The "headstone," as Nolan calls the boulder, lies exactly where the lines intersect. Crooker said investigators believe the cross shape is related to the Knights Templar. One theory claims that Henry Sinclair, a Scot believed to a member of the Knights, reached Nova Scotia in 1398. He built or occupied a castle at New Ross, 23 miles inland from Oak Island. His mission could have been to bury the Templar treasure or protect it. The Templars based in southern France, were an order of fighting monk- knights prominent in the Crusades who amassed great wealth. Powerful and loyal only to the Pope, the Templars became a threat to European kings. In 1307, the king of France arrested almost all the Templars. Some who escaped took refuge in Scotland and Portugal. There are reports that 18 galleys took the treasure from New Rochelle, France, and were never seen again."
So begins the latest saga of the treasure of Oak Island. The history of the Knights Templar is very interesting, and includes many treasure tales. Currently the French government has banned any type of excavations around former Templar castles. To this day people still search for the treasure of the Templars. Don't be too quick to dismiss this latest theory.
The Knights of the Temple Mount, known as the Knights Templar, began in 1118 A.D. and ended abruptly in 1307 A.D. Their name was taken from the Temple Mount which is said to be the site in Jerusalem where the original Temple of Solomon had been built. During this time thousands of Christians were making pilgrimages to the Middle East to visit the holy sites were Christ had lived and died. Many of these pilgrims became targets for bandits and there was an on going struggle between Christians and Moslems for control of these sites.
The struggle for the control of the Holy Land is what we have come to know as the Crusades. Noblemen from Europe raised armies and set off for the Middle East to seek fame and fortune. Personality conflicts and in-fighting caused disunity among the Crusaders. A small group of noblemen, Knights, came together and decided to dedicate their entire lives to the service of the Holy Land. They took the monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Rather than lead a life of contemplation and prayer, the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templque Salomonis, the Poor Fellow- Soldiers of Christ and the Temple Solomon, the Knights Templar, choose the sword to defend pilgrims and the faith. When a nobleman would join their ranks, he would surrender his castle and property to the Knights who would use revenues generated from the property to purchase weapons, war-horses, armor and other military supplies. The ranks of the Knights Templar grew rapidly. Other noblemen and Kings who were not members often gave them gifts of money and land. King Steven of England contributed his valuable English manor of Cressing in Essex. He also made arrangements for high ranking members of the Knights to visit nobles of England and Scotland.
This being the time of the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Eugenius decreed that the Knights Templar and only the Knights Templar would wear a special red cross with blunt wedge-shaped arms called the cross patee on the left breasts of their white robes, so that they could be quickly recognized at any time by Christians and by other Templars on the field of battle. The white robes with red crosses became their required dress. The warrior-knights fought bravely in the Middle East, and were highly respected by their Moslem counterparts for their strategy and bravery. Back in Europe the Templar wealth was growing. They owned over nine thousand manors and castles across Europe all of which were tax free. Each property was farmed and produced revenues that were used to support the largest banking system in Europe. The Templar wealth and power caused suspension and jealously among some members of the European nobility. Slanderous rumors were spread of secret rituals and devil worship.
King Philip IV of France was responsible for many of these rumors. King Philip, fearing the Templar power went to Rome and convinced Pope Clement V that the Knights Templar were not the holy defenders of the faith but were seeking to destroy it. The Pope ordered King Philip to arrest all the Knights in France and begin an inquisition. When the Kings men went to the Templar castles they found many of them abandoned and the large naval force that had been anchored at the Templar base in La Rochelle was gone. Those that were arrested were tried and found guilty of sins against God. Jaques de Molay, the last grand master of the Knights templar was burned at the stake in Paris in 1314.
A contemporary English poem asked the question that many ask today, where did all the Templars and their great wealth go? The brethren, the Masters of the Temple, Who were well-stocked and ample With gold and silver and riches, Where are they? How have they done? They had such power once that none Dared take from them, none was so bold; Forever they bought and never sold... This question has plagued historians and treasure hunters for centuries. For hundreds of years there have been rumors that the Knights Templar were not only the defenders of the faith, but were also the guardians of the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is said to be the most holy of religious artifacts. Different versions of the legend exist with the two most prominent stating that the Holy Grail is the cup or chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper or a piece of the cross that he was crucified on. The chalice version of the Holy Grail has Saint Joseph of Arimathea bringing to England the cup used at the Last Supper which had been used to collect the blood that flowed from Christ's wounds. A Welsh version of the Grail story says Saint Joseph of Arimathea brought the Grail to England with the word of Christ, and left the holy relic at Glastonbury, from where it reached King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. The Grail is said to take many forms and King Arthur saw it in its fifth and final form while receiving Communion with hermits, a bleeding lance. The bleeding lance also known as the lance of Longinus, which pierced Christ's side while on the cross, was discovered by the Crusaders at Antioch. This last version would put the Templars and the lance in the Middle East at the same time. In a future article I will explore the full legend of the Holy Grail and the legend of the Fisher King. Before leaving the legend of the Holy Grail stop and think of the religious significance such a relic would have.
Legend has long held, and recent archaeological finds prove, that many of the Knights Templar settled in Scotland, after being forced out of France. It is said that the Templars fought along side Robert the Bruce and were instrumental in helping him defeat the English armies sent by King Edward. The Knights were befriended by Prince Henry St. Clair, the Third Lord of Roslin. With the help of the Templars the Scottish Prince built a new castle, Roslin, meaning the Blood of Christ. The castle, which exists today has hundreds of Templar and Holy Grail symbols etched in its stone work, even St. Clair's tombstone has a Templar symbol. Andrew Sinlair a direct descendent of Henry St. Clair has researched his ancestor extensively and says that St. Clair and the Knights Templar tried to found a new Jerusalem in the New World, landing first in what is now Nova Scotia (New Scotland) and then in New England. Enter the mystery of Oak Island and the money pit.
The mystery of Oak Island began in 1795 when three boys rowed out to explore the wooded island. They came upon a depression under an oak tree. The boys spent the summer digging beneath the tree. They found a shaft 13 feet in diameter, with tightly fitted log platforms placed across it at 10 foot intervals. At 90 feet they found a large rock slab with hieroglyphic writing, which no one has been able to read. When the rock slab was removed, sea water began rising from the bottom of the pit, to within 30 feet of the surface. Attempts to bail the water from the pit were fruitless, as sea water just replaced the water removed. For almost two hundred years treasure hunters have tried to solve the riddle of what has become known as the "money pit" probably more for the amount of money spent trying to get to the bottom of the pit, then what might be there. All attempts to get to the bottom of the shaft have failed. Treasure hunters have tried sinking shafts adjacent to the "money pit" but when they have attempted to tunnel over to it, these shafts too filled with sea water, again to 30 feet from the surface. One thing is certain, the engineer who did construct the "money pit" did his job well, and has frustrated every attempt to violate the chamber to date.
The Knights Templar were known for their engineering expertise. Could they have been the builders of the shaft on Oak Island? Of all the possibilities and theories that have been attributed to the island, the Templar connection may well be the answer. Does the chamber on Oak Island contain the treasure of the Knights Templar or possibly the Holy Grail? The answer to this question might well come early in 1994 when Triton Corporation begins their assault to solve the riddle of Oak island.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of several articles on the Knights Templar. In future articles we will explore their history in more detail and other possible treasure sites associated with them.