A few weeks ago on America Unearthed, Scott Wolter claimed that the “precursors” to the Knights Templar came to Arizona because “some Muslim group” had forced them out of Europe in the eighth century. At the time, I thought this was simply an incongruous reference to the Islamic conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries CE. But in researching Vinland for more background on the Viking occupation of Newfoundland, I came across an interesting reference in Sir Daniel Wilson’s 1892 essay “The Vinland of the Northmen” that I think sheds some important light on this throwaway line and the thought process behind it. The results are surprising and somewhat disturbing.
Another tale comes down to us from the time of the Caliph Walid, and the invincible Musa, of the “Seven Islands” whither the Christians of Gothic Spain fled under the guidance of their seven bishops, when, in the eighth century, the peninsula passed under the yoke of the victorious Saracens.
Although he does not give a reference, I was able to track down a fuller version of the story. In most accounts it is not Seven Islands but rather an Island of Seven Cities, better known as Antillia. One version is recorded on Martin Behaim’s 1492 Nuremberg globe:
In the year 734 after the birth of Christ, when all Spain was overrun by the miscreants of Africa, this Island of Antillia, called also the Isle of the Seven Cities, was peopled by the Archbishop of Porto with six other bishops, and certain companions, male and female, who fled from Spain with their cattle and property. In the year 1414 a Spanish ship approached very near this Island. (trans. Charles Beazley)
Johannes Ruysch tells the same story on his 1507 map, in nearly the same words, adding that the people spoke “the Hispanic language” when they were first contacted but had since vanished.
The story is further retold by Antonio de Herrara in the 1601-1615 Décadas (vol. 1, dec. 1, book 1, chap. 2), in which the Island was home to the Portuguese
at the Time when Spain was overrun by the Moors in the Reign of King Roderick, for that seven Bishops, flying from that Persecution, embark’d with a great Number of People, and arriv’d in that Island, where each of them built his Town, and to the end the People might not think of returning, they set fire to the Ships. (trans. John Stevens)
It appears in several other places as well, with slightly different details.
The story of “pure” Christians escaping the infidel rather than submit is almost certainly mythical, akin to the Sleeping King myth and more generally the Returning Hero motif of folklore, for these “lost” people were believed in medieval times to be perpetually on the verge of returning to rescue Spain from the Muslim yoke. This is very similar to the British myth of King Arthur and his knights asleep on the far-distant Isle of Avalon until England should have need of them again. Nevertheless, in time Antillia became identified with America. By 1729, Gregorio Garcia could assert in the Origen de los Indios that the eighth-century “Spanish” had fled Moorish Spain and settled in Mexico—tying in with the then-popular belief that the Toltecs and/or Aztecs were the descendants of a lost race of “white” Europeans.
The Islamic writer and traveler al-Idrisi of Sicily was rumored to have recorded a variant of the legend, at least according to alternative writers like David Childress. This Idrisi claimed to have sailed as far as the Canary and Madeira islands and to have recorded all the lands of the world on a silver globe made for King Roger II of Sicily. The globe was soon lost, and a single Arabic description of it remained, translated into Latin in 1691. Here, Idrisi locates among a confused report of the Canaries and Azores an additional island, Sahelia, which he describes as having “three cities of equal size, much peopled, the inhabitants of which were now all slain by civil wars” (trans. Walter F. Walker). This island was almost certainly one of the Canaries, but it was roped in to support the Spanish story of the Seven Cities despite significant differences, not least of which was the fact that Sahelia maintained constant nautical contact with the mainland, while the Seven Cities cherished isolation.
Now here is where things get interesting. Holy bloodline writers make much hay of the fact that St. James the Just, often called the brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, with Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1), was particularly revered in Spain. Catholics do not recognize Mary as having given birth to any other children (the perpetual virgin), so bloodline writers think this means that any group venerating James must therefore be aware of secret holy bloodlines and the “true” history of Jesus and his kids. It is an article of faith among later bloodline writers, especially Laurence Gardner, that James the Just was actually Joseph of Arimathea and thus since James was believed to have traveled to and lived in Spain, Joseph must have brought the Holy Grail and the Holy Bloodline there with him. (As far as I know, the claim does not appear in the cult’s ur-text, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.) Gardner, we recall, believed that Jesus is descended from gold-hoarding, bloodthirsty extraterrestrials bent on world domination, an alien other derived from Zecharia Sitchin’s aliens from Nibiru, themselves unconsciously repurposed from anti-Semitic stereotypes.
If any of this be true (and it is not), then it follows that when the Arabs conquered Spain, the bishops who departed to found a colony in the mysterious lands to the west had to have been in on the secret and traveled to America to preserve the truth about Mary Magdalene’s and Jesus’ descendants.
What I thought was simply a throwaway line on America Unearthed turns out to be much more likely an expression of a conspiratorial mindset that sees all of European history entwined with the Jesus bloodline. I honestly thought it was just an offhand reference to medieval history, but in light of these revelations, it looks more and more like Wolter was referencing the deeper levels of the Jesus bloodline conspiracy he apparently believes in so strongly. Now we see why he wanted to dump the story of the Romans, Gauls, and Jews told on the supposedly eighth-century Tucson Artifacts in favor of a proto-Templar group unattested in the inscriptions on any of those hoaxed lead crosses and weapons. It all ties together with a hubristic faith in a hidden history where America plays a starring role as the refuge of God’s elect.
3/7/2013 06:05:57 am
All I can do Jason is thank you again for slogging through the nonsense.
3/7/2013 10:50:05 am
America plays a starring role as the refuge of God’s elect? Why not? America has a history of beckening persecuted people to her shores. Many of America's earliest settlers came to avoid religious persecution. Many of America's founding fathers were strong Christians. In my mind, it is not out of the question for remenants of the Knights Templar to have wanted to come here to start over again, too, especially when one considers the terrible impact of the plague. For example, the Kensington Runestone is dated 1362, a date several years after Scandinavia was hard hit. And it should not seem so strange that Scandinavians would come here with Templars, if one remember's that Crusaders came from many regions of Europe. If French Templars did, indeed, end up in Scotland after being abolished, then fifty years later who were the twenty-two Norsemen referred to on the runestone, besides the eight Gotalanders? The others could have been almost any other people integrated into the population, including those of possible French ancestry. Clearly, someone knowing how to carve runes was in the group who came to America in 1362. By the way, I am from Minnesota, and most folks don't know about the many triangulated stoneholes found here and in SD, in addition to Scandinavian-related rock carvings and many medieval-era iron weapons. There is no accepted provenance for anything, but the totality of evidence, plus the Kensington Runestone itself, shows those with open minds that indeed, Christian Europeans did find their way inland. Nothing about White Power, just another group of people wanting to get away from disease and dictators and start over. Nothing racist. Nothing against the Native Americans. The truth is where we find it.
3/7/2013 11:05:00 am
I've dealt with the stone holes before. They were made in the 19th century for breaking up large stones with blasting powder.
3/7/2013 11:36:12 am
Jason, my ambition is to be nice to you. Please entertain the thought of dealing with stoneholes again. No, I would not expect you to believe anything I say without evidence, as that is the only pathway to the truth we both seek. I, like you, try to base my speculation on logic, though...and the ability to be further educated. Everything comes back to the stoneholes, yes, yes, found mainly in two clusters around here, in MN and SD. I'm going to re-publish my website shortly so you and others can see what these stoneholes are, exactly. I have personally photographed many of them. There is a lot on my website to set you off, Jason, and I'm opening myself up to massive criticism, but at least know that I'm no longer a supporter of Mr. Wolter in any way...but based on my newly perceived view of his treatment of his fan-base, which used to include me. Ironically, the final straw was over a stonehole...the one in SD I have photographs of on my website. He basically said the same thing you just said! Ha! That I don't know the difference between a modern drilled stonehole and a possible medieval-era (plenty of weathering) hand chiseled, triangulated stonehole. They are real, Jason, and hundreds of folks around here are aware of them. Again, I urge you to look at the photos on my site, which I'm going to re-publish in moments. My opening page starts with an earnest letter to the city of Alexandria concerning the runestone and Big Ole. I hope we can have some fun with this, instead of butting heads unnecessarily. Humor helps a lot. I won't post my link here, but anyone can google hallmarkemporium and hit any of the non-wind turbine pages. (I like to cross-pollinate the two groups of readers once in a while, just for fun.)
3/7/2013 11:39:05 pm
I also believe the stone holes are 19th century, but they are far too much of a mystery to dismiss as holes for blasting. Why would anyone hand chisel so many holes into so many boulders in so many out of the way places, and then never blast the boulders? Why are there several in some small boulders?
3/8/2013 12:11:14 am
It's not my claim. You can read here about the article I'm referencing, which brought together several lines of evidence for why these were blasting holes: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2013/01/what-were-the-viking-mooring-stones-really-used-for.html
3/8/2013 04:20:58 am
You seem to be subscribing to the claim. I find the claim as weak as anything on America Unearthed. There is an explanation for the stone holes. It isn't that they were for blasting. If we ever have the explanation, and we probably never will, I think it will be a 19th century explanation.
3/9/2013 10:19:50 am
NOW THAT IS RIDICULOUS!
3/7/2013 11:47:21 am
"Many of America's earliest settlers came to avoid religious persecution."
3/7/2013 12:28:17 pm
Well, I'm an elderly white gentleman, a veteran, who does like to sleep...and I happen to be of an exclusively NW European bloodline, and I'm very robust, though no longer very muscular. Here is my mistake, according to you: believing that the Kensington Runestone is authentic. If one can believe that it is real, then one will notice the Christian expression carved into it. So then, yes, I can envision muscular Christians poking around Minnesota centuries ago. Brave, fearless men. White dudes. Why not? (Delivered with a touch of humor.)
3/7/2013 11:41:07 pm
You realize that, according to Wolter, the "Christian expression" is really a wry repudiation of the church?
3/8/2013 03:03:44 am
I went back to look at your referenced blog from the end of January, Jason. I, too, found your website as a result of googling something about America Unearthed, so I didn't come across your numerous viewpoints until just a few days ago. I hope you went to my website to see the aged, triangulated stoneholes. I would like to say in a friendly way that I'm surprised your mind is so made up about stoneholes. The word dismissive comes to mind, which is a word I would now use to describe my past email relationship with Mr. Wolter. You and Scott share one thing in common, I see; you both have the capacity for being overly-dismissive, in my humble opinion. As someone else here stated, there are several reasons for stoneholes to be made in rocks. Blasting in one reason, for modern times. On my website, I identify at least five other reasons for stoneholes: cracking off slabs using a plug-and-feathers device, marking territory, mooring ships (but not at Runestone Park!), construction, such as the Viking Altar Rock, and possibly for concealing something, using a known grid pattern...I guess I should avoid saying "sacred geometry," to keep things calm. So then, many of these stoneholes around MN are also associated with other medieval evidences. The largest stoneholes I have seen are on the Viking Altar Rock, and in my closeup photos, one can see the obvious aging. I'm not an archaeologist, but I would suggest a professional dig at that site, going down until white rock chips are found. At the same level or directly beneath the chips, samples of anything once living can be located, for carbon testing. I've heard it said that these stoneholes cannot be dated, but I beg to disagree. So much depends on these stoneholes. Runestone Hill, where the 1362 stone document was found in 1898, is basically surrounded by these stonehole rocks, all with obviously aged, triangulated stoneholes. Again, there are many other evidences in this area, such as those shown in Mr. Wolter's book on the hooked X. Many very intelligent people believe the KRS is authentic, and these people would like to know why the hooked x is all over it. I don't believe wholeheartedly that Templars left it out in the middle of nowhere, but I haven't seen any better evidence so far. Is the hooked x connected directly to the Templar leftovers? Maybe. Maybe not, but I personally think it is a good bet, based on what little evidence we have available. Anyway, we've all got to stop being so close-minded. Take another look at the stoneholes on my website. Consider some of the other information, if you will. Bottom line: most of the hundreds of stoneholes found around the SD and MN area were for marking up Native American lands. Mandans anyone?
3/8/2013 03:17:12 am
" 'm not an archaeologist..."
3/8/2013 03:18:50 am
3/8/2013 05:46:40 am
At first, I mistook this blog for something else. Now I recognize it as a sort of Fool's Paradise landing area...a likely extension of America Unearthed, even. But is this for me a classic case of throwing pearls before swine? Obviously. This old white Christian is not too old to learn, though, quickly enough, that this is where ungrateful, profane people seem to congregate...a place to be avoided in the future. Jason, from what I've seen in just a few days, you don't run a very good blog. Why do we smart folks leave right away and the dummies remain? Bye, waste of time.
3/8/2013 09:32:37 am
Like any provider of web content, I am not responsible for the people who choose to comment on it. My policy has been that except for abusive, libelous, or commercial postings, I let visitors write what they want in the comments.
3/8/2013 09:37:18 am
Gunn is crucified for the sins of the white man, and Jason washes his hands of it. Biblical! :)
3/8/2013 09:42:31 am
If you'd like me to change my comments policy, I'll be happy to block all comments that disagree with me, but I can't imagine anyone would find that very helpful.
3/8/2013 10:12:52 am
Ungrateful?! On top of everything else we're supposed to be grateful (!) for your proof-free insanity.
3/9/2013 03:48:11 am
" As it turns out "the white man" was guilty of a good number of grave sins and making up some garbage fantasy alternative Earth in which your racial group was oppressed and fled to freedom in Real 'Merka isn't going to wipe that clean."
3/8/2013 11:13:58 am
Thanks, Lynn. There is hope here yet. But these people will want to prove God exists with evidence, eventually. They seem to not have any faith in exploring history. I have the capacity for forgiveness, and there is hope here yet. Okay then, Jason, spend less time with blog headings and more time monitoring your website, and interacting. Also, please open your mind about stoneholes. Your earlier reference and comments about stoneholes doesn't get it...that's way too shallow for someone of your intellectual ability. You haven't gotten it yet, because you were too dismissive of these important stoneholes. You want to ignor them, while some people want to insist that they are from the 19th century. I will put it to you plainly, please go to the www.hallmarkemporium.com website and look at my photos of closeups of triangulated stoneholes. What will you do with these images now in your mind? Will you ignor them or look at them closely, with interest? Do the holes look fresh and round? No, not at all. Why? Because they're very old and triangulated. Jason, perhaps you want to ignor these evidences because they tend to support Scott Wolter's point of view. Who made these stoneholes, centuries ago? Well, most likely Scandinavians. Anyone who seriously looks into these stoneholes will quickly enough see that they represent an early attempt to carve up portions of the interior of America. The totality of evidence from around this area shows that Scandinavians made a medieval effort to possess the land. The stoneholes represent the glue holding the mystery together. Please don't overlook the stoneholes. People think, "stupid rocks." No, these are evidences of past Scandinavian exploration. I wish I could post a picture here of a simple, aged, triangulated stonehole, so visitors could immediately see one. What we are talking about is easy to see in a photo. But the most remarkable thing to me is seeing how both Scott Wolter and you, Jason Colavito, think alike on the issue of me not knowing my stuff about stoneholes. No, I don't have a degree in stoneholes, but after my elaborate description of the many purposes for stoneholes, and after seeing my photos, I hope no one else will think that ole Gunn doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to stoneholes. Bottom line: don't be dismissive about stoneholes found around SD and MN, as though they are modern blasting leftovers. I can't think of anything else to say...just don't dismiss stonehole rocks as though they don't exist. They exist, and we must deal with them in an historical context. Lynn, thanks for taking note of the "whitey" abuse. Don't worry, I forgive them, "for they know not what they do." One last thing: the Viking period was over by a few centuries when the KRS was carved. I have no illusions about Vikings running around MN. In fact, I've been trying to show folks up here that the Vikings did not leave the runestone! Who does that leave? A group of people using the hooked x rune, for starters. It would be helpful to date some of these stonehole rocks, using the method I described earlier. People aren't trying hard enough to understand these stoneholes. They are old, and real. Believe it, or not. Have some faith in exploring history, folks. There is the case to be made for damage being done by being overly skeptical, attacking just for the sake of attacking. Who's job is it to put people in their place here? Not mine. It's your responsibility, Jason, just as it's your responsibility to be more knowledgable about stoneholes...instead of so off-handedly dismissing them. Okay, I forgive you, too.
3/8/2013 12:21:49 pm
If you have a problem with the work of the archaeologist I cited, you are welcome to rebut him, but I don't think that finding an argument convincing is the same as being close minded and dismissive. You can disagree based on evidence, but to criticize me merely for finding an argument other than yours convincing is ridiculous.
3/8/2013 11:51:26 am
What can't ANYONE be satisfied just accepting that we have no idea who made the stone holes or why, and we almost surely never will?
3/8/2013 12:12:12 pm
If you have a problem with the work of the archaeologist who investigated the holes, you're welcome to take it up with him, but to my mind it is difficult to refute the evidence he presented.
3/8/2013 12:03:17 pm
Lynn, we have an idea who made the stoneholes, and why. With this, I give up here.
3/10/2013 04:58:52 am
As one last favor to the blog, here we positively see aged, triangulated stoneholes. I enlarged and added some photos to hopefully leave no doubt that these are not round, 19th century blasting holes:
3/10/2013 06:04:08 am
They are called ''MOORING STONES'
3/10/2013 06:21:36 am
You do realize that the name "mooring stone" is conventional, and was created in the early 1900s, by a known person, and that before then they had no name, much less the name of "mooring stone." To claim proof from nomenclature is a silly as proclaiming a koala to be a cousin to a grizzly because both are named "bears."
3/10/2013 06:54:41 am
I wish I could let this go, but I cannot. Mooring stones were not used in Minnesota. They were used primarily in Europe along coastlines where there were no trees, Iceland, for example, and to mark land ownership. Boats would tie up to trees here in MN, or be pulled up onto the banks or shores. Runestone Park is making the same mistake as this person above, who insists on calling these stonehole rocks mooring stones. I have personally done much in the past few years to show folks around Kensington and Alexandria that no boats or ships ever moored at Runestone Hill! It is so easy to dispel this notion by understanding that the water levels back in the mid-14th century were about the same in MN as now. The oceans are a different story. Did Native Americans bury their dead underwater here in MN? Obviously not. Sometimes a tiny bit of knowledge seems to be a dangerous thing when it comes to trying to understand history. These many stoneholes, most of them, were simply to mark up land for future ownership and development. By the way, the river route to Kensington was most likely the Chippewa River, as I have shown on my website. Bottom line: it is extremely foolish to entertain the idea of Viking ships ever mooring to rocks at Runestone Hill. I hope some visitors will go to my page about the so-called Viking Altar Rock to see actual hand chiseled triangulated, aged stoneholes. There has been a lot of foolishness connected with the idea of Runestone Park being flooded with several feet of water only several hundred years ago. For more information, go to my website, which explains a lot. There are many fools on this subject, which is almost as bad as those who refuse to be further educated...yes, with real, actual evidence.
3/11/2013 04:30:53 am
"They were used primarily in Europe along coastlines where there were no trees, Iceland, for example, and to mark land ownership."
3/11/2013 02:48:40 am
These guys are not local reseachers.
3/11/2013 04:29:56 am
Oh, I think I understand how this blog works now. One must approach it with humor! Good joking, sherm. It seems like I remember your name from a few years ago, also back then associated with an inability to control your emotions while sitting in front of a keyboard. You haven't changed much. I think you are trying to yell here, right? It looks dumb. I'll calmly ask you a simple question, sherm: back in the Late Woodland period, what did Native Americans do with their dead? I'm talking about the probable time-frame of the Kensington Runestone and the stoneholes. Did they swim down and dig graves in the muddy earth? Of course not. sherm, just do a quick google study of the last glacial movements in this area, and you will finally discover that the land surface, including the water-ways, has not changed much in over 10,000 years, let alone 600-700 hundred years ago. This is called science. You are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge facts, or evidence...just as Jason is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that triangulated, aged stoneholes exist here in America's heartland, even though I've gone to extremes here with him, even speaking as a teacher to a child. Jason has not yet spoken up for the reality of non-19th century stoneholes, though I have provided photos...and even though there is a lot of other information about stonehole online he could research for himself if he doesn't trust my photos. But at least he's trying to tighten up the blog here. You are only delivering loud nonsense and lies yourself. I think I remember trying to educate you a few years ago, but you're still making people laugh, I see. I would be worried about egg on the face and abandon your post here, if I were you. I see Jason did remove some previous bogus blog entries...threats of harm and doom, so I hope he considers removing your loud, brash, emotional outbursts, too. Lastly, one thing I can say with confidence about Scott Wolter: He knows most of these stoneholes are not 19th century, and he knows they are not mooring stones. Jason and sherm, Scott is ahead of both of you on this one! sherm, maybe I'll stick around awhile since I'm a local person from MN...what are your thoughts about this? Make a calm presentation, please, if you can. In other words, I'm still here, even though I said I was going. I changed my mind just for you, sherm. Also, I thought about breaking this entry down into paragraph form and decided that I would do it as I please, for my own reasons. Feedback?
3/11/2013 04:40:35 am
Is it too much to ask you to use paragraphs?
3/11/2013 05:25:15 am
Yes. Is it too much to ask for you to drop "Christ" off the beginning of your name? Opher sounds Biblical. Peace Brother, my mind likes the more scattered approach. You can follow along with your cursor, kind of like how that little ball bounced along the words of a song....
3/11/2013 05:51:29 am
It's darn near impossible to slog through your slop when you won't even delineate paragraphs. Often we see this with the manic writings of the schizophrenic - just reams of undifferentiated run-on thoughts about all of the forces arrayed against the patient.
3/11/2013 07:07:03 am
3/11/2013 07:11:16 am
3/11/2013 08:42:43 am
Thanks for calm approach, sherm. I am very familiar with both Mr. Holand and another early stonehole enthusiast unnamed from around Milbank, SD, whom I call The Stonehole Lady. Simply put, these early pioneers in locating and cataloging stoneholes did some pretty goofy speculating along the same lines that you take: that the many stoneholes must have been for mooring ships. Mr. Holand made the same mistake you are making now; that is, he didn't consider the science and facts about the last glacial movement. He became fixated on mooring stones, much as you are now. The Stonehole Lady from SD was fixated for a long time on these being mooring stones, but I believe she now knows better. Consider the team who wrote "The Last Kings of Norse America" last year: they came to realize that most of the stoneholes were not for mooring ships, but according to their book, they also still hold on to the view that Runestone Park was once some kind of ship-traveling hub. Their credentials is discovering that the island referred to on the runestone is a patch of ground just north of Runestone Hill. But how could that be if the area was flooded? The peninsula-island referred to is Runestone Hill itself, a very moat-like setting. The Kensington Runestone party came by way of the Chippewa River, most likely, up from the Minnesota River. No mooring stones were needed in this region, sherm. Your quotes are about ancient coastlines, etc. MN has plenty of trees to tie up to. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but anyone else who still believes in "the mooring stone" theory have been left way behind in this debate about stoneholes. But now, sherm (and Jason), if these were not mooring stones, or for 19th century blasting, what were they for? Exactly...stop being stubborn and you will learn. Out of the old classroom and into this new one here on Jason's blog...kind of fun when folks aren't killing one another. sherm, Jason, please check out my website again with the blinders off this time. By the way, my Newport Tower photos are up now: www.hallmarkemporium.com., which Mr. Smith requested.
3/29/2013 08:21:22 am
Been reading all these comments...it seems to me that so many people just don't have opinions based on the right process...the way you get to a conclusion is just as important as the evidence that sparks your thoughts.
2/8/2014 10:53:11 am
Wow. The blog has become a runaway slander spot. I'm just a guy googling for info...seemed like the primary article was pretty good...and the few opening comments were scholarly and professional...just what I was looking for....too bad I continued reading. With ea. comment the bar got lower and lower. I'll return to this site when I seem some maturity in all of you.
2/8/2014 11:07:40 am
Forgive me, but you plan to blame me for what people choose to comment in response? You'll be happy to know that on 1/24/14 I imposed a new comments policy to cut down on off-topic comments and personal attacks.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.