Scott Wolter and the producers of America Unearthed, Andy and Maria Awes, owners of Committee Films, have been interested in the Templar connection to ancient America for a very long time, and each of their History/H2 projects pushes the exact same ideas in slightly different packages. Today, I’d like to look at Scott Wolter’s appearance on The Holy Grail in America, a program produced by Committee Films in 2009 for the History Channel.
The thesis of the documentary was that the Kensington Rune Stone was carved by the Knights Templar in order to claim the entirety of what later became the Louisiana Purchase as well as much of the Midwest and Deep South. According to the documentary, the Templars, who started a new society in America, became the Freemasons who in turn secretly infiltrated the fledgling United States government in order to perpetuate their dissenting view of the “sacred feminine” in Christianity. According to the film, the “separation of church and state” (a concept not actually found verbatim in the Constitution but interpreted from the First Amendment) was of “Masonic design” to protect Templar interests.
Colonial-era women would probably be surprised to know that Committee Films feels that they were living in a society that thrilled to the sacred feminine and the power of women.
Maria Awes stated that she became interested in the Templar-America connection after meeting Scott Wolter, the driving force behind the documentary and the later America Unearthed series. In fact, in 2009, the Awes asserted in press materials for Holy Grail that they intended it as a pilot for a future series, and they explicitly claimed that their film could tie in with the then-current Dan Brown Da Vinci Code prequel movie, Angels and Demons. The concepts laid out in the film exactly match those developed at length in America Unearthed.
Holy Grail had a budget of more than $360,000 and received $19,468.57 in funding from Minnesota Film and Television, of which 50% came from tax dollars and the rest from privately-donated matching funds.
Since most of the material in the film was covered in my America Unearthed reviews, I’d like to look at an instance in the film where Scott Wolter betrayed his naïve acceptance of the demonstrably untrue.
This involves the so-called Burrows Cave, an “ancient” site that dates all the way back to 1982, when Russell Burrows began hawking artifacts in a faux-Egyptian art style that he claimed to have found in an Illinois cave. When investigators from the Early Sites Research Society tried to pin down the location of the cave and its supposed wonders, they came up empty handed. Burrows refused to tell anyone where the cave is, despite regularly producing phantasmagorical new “artifacts” in a range of ancient art styles. Thousands of such artifacts appeared, and Burrows asserted that $60 million in gold was buried in the cave, which he worried that the Illinois state government would “steal” from him.
Even Barry Fell recognized that at least one Burrows Cave artifact was a poor copy of an illustration from his own America B.C. (1976), including Fell’s own transcription error!
Investigators found evidence that the Burrows Cave hoax had ties to Mormon cult archaeology, and some fringe groups suggested that the objects were the fabled Temple Treasure of Solomon, lost when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem in 568 BCE. This aligned with Mormon claims that Jews fled Jerusalem and came to America. Among supporters of this view is the neo-Nazi pedophile Frank Joseph, who edited articles about the cave in his magazine Ancient American with funding from Mormon extremists. Ancient American also published some of Scott Wolter’s only non-self-published reports using his “new science” of archaeopetrography. Another supporter of this view is Arnold Murray, a Christian extremist, who believes that the British were some of the Lost Tribes of Israel and therefore Anglo-Saxons in America are God’s chosen people, and America His chosen kingdom.
Other fringe writers differed from the Mormon/Evangelical-influenced view, however, concocting a conspiracy whereby the Knights Templar found the treasure buried in Jerusalem while headquartered on the Temple Mount and spirited it away to America after the suppression of their order in 1307. The treasure was meant to be the patrimony for a new state, one celebrating the “sacred feminine” and ruled by the Bloodline of Christ, a state represented by the Kensington Rune Stone, the major land claim to the entire Mississippi watershed.
Here’s how the story played out in Holy Grail in America:
Narrator: Legend says the cave lies somewhere along a branch of the Little Wabash River in Illinois, in an area known as Little Egypt.
It is interesting that in 2009 the Awes maintained enough journalistic sense to present the mainstream point of view, while Wolter (in the edited remarks shown in the program) betrayed not a hint of doubt that the obviously fake material was anything but legitimate. (Wolter would later revise his opinion after discovering evidence of a hoax.) How different America Unearthed is! (Note, though, that Burrows Cave is attributed to an unnamed “legend” rather than the actual facts to give it a patina of age and mystery it does not deserve.)
But what is deeply disturbing is the broader claim implicit in the discussion in Holy Grail and its successor, America Unearthed. In the reading of history that Scott Wolter and the Awes endorse, there is a deep need to “prove” the illegitimacy of the U.S. government’s claim to the Mississippi Valley, as we saw in the episode “A Motive for Murder.” (Two different ways of challenging America’s sovereignty over the heartland!) By delegitimizing the (secular) American government, one could “restore” the pure religion of the sacred feminine, the right and true religion a corrupt secular world and the Catholic Church had worked to destroy. How interesting that it is the central United States, not the east or west coasts (the most likely landing site for any trans-oceanic travelers) that these claims seek to single out for special treatment. Is it entirely a coincidence that these same lands are those occupied by the cultural and religious groups with the greatest interest in challenging federal (secular, liberal) authority?
While this reading is not explicit in the documentaries, it is implicit. I’m not sure I see a significant difference between longing to return to some New Age, pseudo-Gnostic “original” Christianity and the Evangelicals, who also think they have possession of the one truth about the original teachings of Christ. In both cases, the groups see the world as fallen from grace and seek to replace secular government with more palatable versions tied to their religious values. You can choose which brand of faith you want the new heartland empire to brandish, but either way it’s still a weird longing for cultural revitalization through a return to “pure” religion. As the Christian Nation website claims, “It’s all about living your traditional Christian faith in all aspects of your life, without worrying that you might offend someone. That’s the way it use [sic] to be. That’s the way it will be again.” Or, as Christian broadcaster Joni Lamb said after the 2012 election, “If you live in America and you understand that we are a Christian society then you can’t be offended by things like that or you shouldn’t live here.”
I’m not paranoid enough to think that anyone seriously intends the “rune stone land claim” to be the foundation of a secessionist movement for Christian extremists, but it does seem to appeal to a certain theocratic fantasy percolating beneath the surface of American culture, whereby Christian government (of whatever flavor) marries heaven and earth and rains down God’s grace into the unsatisfying lives of humble sinners.
3/6/2013 04:41:15 am
Fantastic stuff, Jason!
3/6/2013 05:09:31 am
There's so much "alternative" history about the founding of America that it's just crazy. In addition to the attempt to write Christianity into the godless constitution, there are also the Native American activists who claim that the Constitution was "borrowed" from the Iroquois Confederacy, despite the complete dissimilarity.
3/6/2013 06:08:33 am
I think it's worth mentioning some of the main themes from places like Stormfront; a reverence for Viking/Celtic "culture", and a return to an unsullied form of Christianity. While any rational person would see these as conflicting ideas, the nutjob racists fancy themselves "complex". "Look at all of our interesting ideas, have you heard the one about the Indians wiping the whites out first?" The Nephilim, relics always leading back to the Templars(via Indiana Jones), you know, Stuff White Supremacists Like. Ad Nauseum.
That's not quite true. The History Channel used to have some very good as well as original programs. Mail Call, Jurassic Fight Club, and Life After People are few that come to mind. While transferring some VHS tapes to dvd, I ran across a series on the American Revolution ans Smithsonian special on the Civil War. Both of these programs carry the TLC label which just goes to show how badly some cable stations have gotten. It appears to be mostly budgetary, after all so called reality shows are cheaper to make than a program with real merit, content, and originality.
3/9/2013 05:25:31 pm
Wow. And I thought Wolter was whacko.
3/6/2013 06:01:36 am
Love the blog, Jason. I can't stop reading.
3/6/2013 06:07:20 am
Thank you for that info. I've updated the post above to include Wolter's later change of views. It still doesn't speak well for archaeopetrography, however.
3/6/2013 06:18:36 am
I don't disagree with you at all. In fact, I would guess the Burrows Cave hoax will never be revisited by Committee Films because it would call into question the very origins of their continuing narrative. Consequently, the general public (those who don't actively try to find such information) will never know that Wolter himself has discredited this find. After all, authentic Burrows Cave junk fits in nicely with the "Cottage Industry" (as suggested by a past fan of your blog) Wolter continues to build.
3/6/2013 06:30:25 am
I would also point out that Wolter, presumably using his archeo-petrography skills, first believed the Burrows Cave artifacts were relatively old. This once again calls into question his ability to accurately date such carvings.
3/6/2013 11:18:45 am
In fairness, he has always said that the Burrows Cave artifacts were not at all datable because they had never been exposed to weather. I had a chance to examine about 50 of them, and they looked like they were carves last week. By the way, do you all realize that Russel Burrows posted in this blog a couple weeks ago?
3/6/2013 01:30:38 pm
Lynn, your last post confused me a little bit. Maybe you can clarify it for me. If Wolter could not date the Burrows cave artifacts because they had not weathered, then how could he date the Kensington rune stone. I think I remember Wolter stating the rune stone had been buried by the carver as a land claim marker. If it had been buried shortly after carving it would not have weathered either.
3/6/2013 10:03:28 pm
You would have to ask him. I personally, don't think the KRS was ever in the ground (at least not AFTER being carved).
3/7/2013 08:12:57 am
Rocks weather faster when in the topsoil layer, as the moisture persists longer, plus there is the impact of biological weathering - roots, insects, and bacteria.
3/6/2013 07:10:27 am
I see no point in degrading the concept of Christianity for the masses. It seems to me that God has reached out to individuals, and to countries, to help push His agenda. Some people who studied the history of the Templars have come to the conclusion that they could have wanted to begin a new nation here in America, perhaps around the time-frame of the Kensington Runestone.
3/6/2013 07:14:15 am
I am not degrading the concept of Christianity; I am instead degrading the concept that a secret cult had esoteric knowledge of America, or that the Christian God picks winners and losers from among those who believe in Him based on cultural affiliation.
3/6/2013 07:28:58 am
Okay, glad about that, except that partial mapping of America is well documented, before Columbus. Esoteric knowledge of America was probably not that esoteric, in other words. Unfortunately for your belief-base, the Christian God does indeed pick winners and losers based on cultural affiliation. Many people feel that God has blessed America, in spite of the recent decline in morality. (Not to get into an argument with you...I like your blog, and I learn a lot from it.)
3/6/2013 07:37:41 am
Jason, I read your description of how and why Dan Brown got involved with the holy bloodline nonsense. Good work. That is a public service announcement, especially since a lot of nonsense is still being formulated over the idea of Christ marrying and having a child...quite contradictory to the notion of an immaculate conception. Esoteric information? I hope not.
3/6/2013 01:40:03 pm
Dont forget the current Keynesian astrologers like bernanke. Qprinting money from thin air to prop up the financial sector and govt sectors..both choking on all that fake credit thee fed created. I fins it ironic that the media rightfully points out the junk science of this show bur holds up economists the dismal of sciences as fact. Hey Ben can we all have printing presses to?
3/6/2013 05:04:27 pm
Thank you for the blog, Jason - and it's great that when I searched on "America's Stonehenge" looking for real facts about the place after seeing a snippet of "America Unearthed," your blog came right up at the top.
3/6/2013 09:55:53 pm
Welcome, Kat! I'm glad you found my site. You're absolutely right that the more you know about a subject the dumber the History/H2 channels seem. My father is an antique dealer and while he loves the pawning/picking shows, knows where they're taking liberties there, too.
10/26/2014 05:32:52 pm
Scott F. Wolter has substituted the Knights Templar for the older Culdee monks who created the hooked X who also constructed New Port Tower and along with Friar Nicholas of Lynn and the local Culdee monks who mostly fleed Ireland after 1169 when the Vatican's forces invaded Ireland to destroy the extremely advanced Culdee monks who fleed to many areas in North America which they already had settlements. Their descendents partly constructed the Kensington Rune Stone. There are hundreds of stone ruins south of Hudson Bay which are ancient.
10/26/2014 05:25:22 pm
Kat, in real biblical historical archeology, the center of Stonehenge Lat. is 51.10.73 which contains 7 10 153 from the triangular number 153 found in 1 Kings 53 and later John 21:11. In ancient times 7 and 10 is 17, this triangular number has 153 dots with 17 on three sides. 17+17+17 =51 for 51 Latitude. Strait west of Stonehenge is a Dog head with ancient script around it, you can see on google earth. Located just north of Henderson Beach- Big Arm- Last Mountain Lake Sask. Through Information Services Corporation, a satellite imagery used to find underground gravel deposits reveals and ancient village and massive star map. About a half mile from Stonehenge, a gold breastplate was found and has a star dating system on it dating to 3117BC. This dog head was laid out in the form of Sirius. There is ancient Phoenician at this massive site. If your father doesn't know this code which was later used in the New Testament, then he has no credability. The code was used on the Kensington runestone using the bible verses for the Holy Grail,, after blod or blood :OG;DED; AVM = Madog VED. Who's birthday from this triangular 153 number code, was used for Leif Erikson Day in the USA? Who linked the Manitoba burial mounds to the Culdee monk Prince Madog ap Owain Gwynedd who is buried near this dog head? Now add your Long. center from Stonehenge, 7 10 1153 and 95* 47* The line in 4:7 is King David, the calf is Christ, Prince Madog is the human face located near Pelican Pointe road. Who is the flying Eagle in Rev.4:7, is his birthday 7 10 1953 and 51* 47*? Why is Bethesda Wales Snowdonia 53 Lat. in John 5:1 to 3?
3/7/2013 04:33:54 am
I was at a knitting seminar yesterday. The topic of the lack of educational value of the History Channel and the like did come up. The teacher is from Sweden and was teaching her Viking Knitting class.
3/7/2013 04:54:18 am
I'm a fan of the genre I'd call speculative historical fiction. But the key is in calling it fiction. Shows like AU are on a channel calling itself history, not the historical fiction channel. And not only are such shows offering their content, straight-faced, as factual, they are implying that "they" are the vanguard of discovering the facts.
William M Smith
3/10/2013 04:55:48 am
I heard that R. Burrows was a prison guard some time back and F. Joseph was visiting that prison. Is their any truth to this story?
3/15/2013 03:25:31 am
Frank Joseph whose real name is Frank Joseph Cohen was an inmate serving time as a child predator. Not "visiting" .He also is a Jew who organized the first Nazi march in Skokie Illinois .....so he is mentally skewed and perverted.He has a thing for little boys and should not be associated with Wayne May or anyone else.He is known to have forged many of the Burrows cave artifacts,and Russell Burrows enlisted him and other inmates not visitors to produce the fabricated Burrows cave hoax on anyone he could make money from....Scott Wolter bought the pieces that were on the show...then resold them for a fortune
4/11/2013 02:29:04 pm
You don't know everything you think you do CC
12/29/2013 04:46:21 am
After watching the HC episode on the Burrows Cave I have spent the last few hours reading up on it. It seems, overall, red flags came up everywhere. My last question, before believing it a hoax, was where did he get the time to make 7,000 artifacts-he would have need a source of manpower to turn that out. Well, I keep reading and reading and finally the last piece of the puzzle (proving to me it is all a hoax) was his access to prisoners as a guard. All those artifacts were probably bought with cigarettes. Actually you would have thought there was an least one good engraver in the prison that could have upped the quality of the artifacts.
1/4/2014 07:18:17 pm
I believe myself to be a christian. a follower of Christ. I don't care nuch for many if the disrespect targeted at legitimate christian groups, using prases like "nutjob" and "racist". unfortunately the.word Christian has many cconotation,meaning many things to many people.
1/12/2014 02:12:33 am
Just watched the History Unearthed episode on the Female Goddess in Washington DC architecture. I think Scott Wolter and the books of Alan Butler show that the secrets of the Freemasons are everywhere in Washington DC, and have little, if anything to do with Christianity.
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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.
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