Muir contacted me to promote the book, and I asked her to provide me with samples of the original Latin of the diaries and/or photographs of these journals. She declined to provide the evidence. [Update: Muir disputed this in a comment on Scott Wolter’s blog. A person claiming to be Muir contacted me via Twitter on Oct. 23, and I replied via Twitter.] Apparently—and incredibly—Muir threw away the originals, keeping only her convenient translation, three pages, and a few photos. According to Muir, who described her choice to dispose of and bury the journals in an undisclosed location in a now-deleted Facebook post, the books she had were copies made during the Civil War (the American one, I assume) to protect their contents. There are, apparently, no medieval originals to be had.
Now erstwhile America Unearthed host Scott F. Wolter, a longtime Sinclair conspiracy theorist, has posted to his blog the introduction he wrote to Muir’s translation. It is every bit as bad as you might imagine a number of amateurs reinforcing their mutual fantasies might be.
For our purposes, I am going to assume that the documents are fake because… well, because no one has provided evidence to the contrary and all signs point to fakery. But I am also taking this position to show that the claims Wolter makes can equally or better be explained by forgery.
Wolter rightly begins by expressing his doubts about the journals’ authenticity, but things take a swift turn when he wrongly concludes that experts from dozens of fields would be necessary to fake the information found in them. Worse, though, is that Wolter claims to have spent two years personally vetting the journals with Masonic Grand Master Terry Tilton, neither of whom possess the requisite expertise. Wolter, for example, does not read the Latin in which Muir says they were written. How one could vet texts written in a language one cannot read, I hesitate even to speculate.
Both Terry Tilton and Scott Wolter have had flattering pedigrees of their supposed exalted ancestors prepared and published by Muir.
According to Wolter, the journals reflect with uncanny accuracy conspiracy theories about the life and beliefs of Henry Sinclair that were not part of the historical record and only developed by inference in the middle and late twentieth century. Amazing!
The Scottish Templars led by the Sinclair’s traveled to the “Western Lands” numerous times including Earl Henry’s father, William Sinclair II, who made the trip a total of seven times himself. Impossible to comprehend at first glance, the idea of frequent trips to North America becomes all the more plausible given the “Cremona Document” tells of Templar voyages coming to North America as early as 1179. It seems a hoaxer would be more conservative in the number of trips knowing the context of currently accepted beliefs of historians that the Templars no longer existed in the mid to late Fourteenth Century, let alone ever made it to America. The fallacy here was the idea of no pre-Columbian European contact has no factual supporting evidence and numerous documents, artifacts, and sites found in North America directly refute this erroneous narrative.
Wolter flatters himself that this apparently hoax was written to fool historians and not him. The mention of goddess worship, a new innovation added to the myth of Henry Sinclair in the 2000s by Wolter and his circle, marks this as a fairly obvious hoax. So far as I can find, there is no mention of Sinclair in connection with goddess worship before about 2004, and even then it was symbolic, not literal. Full-blown goddess worship claims seem to emerge from Wolter’s television series and related book after 2012. The further description of Sinclair as having found primitive Freemasons among Templar descendants in America marks this as a derivative of Wolter’s own speculations, for he developed this particular idea after 2013, further narrowing the window for hoaxing.
The journals also conveniently record Sinclair’s impressions of Antonio and Nicolò Zeno, the Venetian navigators and supposed authors of the hoax Zeno narrative (actually written by a descendant two centuries later). The journals further provide a record of the thirty men who took off to the interior of America to carve the Kensington Rune Stone, itself widely considered another hoax. What luck! What chance! Templars, Zenos, and the Rune Stone! My, that Henry Sinclair was so perceptive, a veritable eyewitness to hidden history. A shame, then, that he left no comparable records of his official acts in the actual records of his life surviving in Europe.
“Only a deeply knowledgeable person on a team of hoaxers could insert these aspects into the entries in such convincing fashion,” Wolter writes. “Beyond myself and very few others, we know of no others who understand the complicated Goddess ideology of the Templar leadership.” Unknown to Wolter, he answered his own question: To create such a hoax, a hoaxer need only copy directly from Wolter’s own books and blog posts and radio rants. That he cannot see his own fingerprints only shows that the hoax most likely was designed with him in mind as its target audience.
Wolter’s details about his vetting do not inspire confidence. He claims to have read the English translation—by Muir—and to have seen a photograph of one page of one journal. He claims three original pages, which he believes are copies of copies, still exist—though in comments below his blog post, he says he handled all of the journals and has photographs he will not share. Wolter claims that checking the content of the journals failed to turn up matches with known figures or extant European records. Bizarrely, he claims that this is evidence of authenticity. “This begs the question of how and why a forger would make up so many names of people known to exist and others we can find no record of. That we still have many questions about these individuals actually supports authenticity of the documents.” No, no, no. The forger more likely made up names because she (or he, I guess, since Muir claimed on Facebook to be the recipient of the journals from what she originally thought was a hoaxer) was making things up and did not have access to European archives, such as church baptismal records, grave markers, legal papers, and other surviving documents that might have provided a better cover.
I expected to see Wolter explain what exactly he did to vet these journals. What facts did he check? What records did he use? For example, a place to start would be to compare the journals’ account of Henry I Sinclair’s life against the surviving documentation of his whereabouts. Do they align? Similarly, if he was involved with the brothers Zeno, how does this square against Venetian records showing that one of them was in Greece in 1392 and in Venice in 1394, where he was on trial. He also lived to 1402 while the hoax Zeno narrative has him in Greenland in 1393 and dead in 1394. These are fairly big problems that should be among the easiest places to start vetting the text.
I also expected to see a discussion of the Latin. Given that Wolter is ignorant of it (he uses Google Translate), one might have expected him to ask an expert to review whether the Latin was (a) correct and (b) correct for the fourteenth century. Is the orthography consistent with the date?
What exactly did he do for two years?
Wolter only says that he will present information about this “in the future.” One might have expected that the publication of the journals would have been the time to present evidence for their supposed authenticity. But then I am not a fringe historian, so what do I know?
According to Terry Tilton, writing in his own foreword to the book, presented on the volume’s Lulu.com sales page, his contribution involved searching “Masonic archives” for the names found in the journals. This strikes me as ridiculous since the Masons did not exist at the time and had nothing to do with Henry I Sinclair. They did not become involved with the Sinclair family for at least a century. He claims, contrary to Wolter, that many of the names (at least from the later centuries for which records exist) match extant records.
A third person involved with the situation two years ago, according to Muir, was Wolter’s former partner in the Xplrr media company, whom I have elected not to name for reasons obvious to regular readers. This piece of information clears up some of the questions about the dramatic and paradigm-busting revelations that Xplrr promised two years ago but, as of this writing, did not deliver.
From Wolter’s description, it appears that the so-called journals are a pseudo-historical fantasy designed to support a fringe view North American history, which just so happens to also be in the particular variant championed by the translator’s favorite TV host. That is truly an amazing coincidence, is it not?
Wolter suggests that the proof of the journals’ authenticity will come from excavating sites listed in the journals for evidence of Sinclair occupation.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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