Wolter and his crew were shooting at Well Cave in East Wemyss in Fife. The caves contain ancient carvings of Pictish origin dating back as far back as the Bronze Age. Wolter was filming in a location known for its extensive nineteenth century graffiti. Well Cave, which was thought to contains no Pictish carvings, had previously been featured in a 2004 episode of Time Team.
Among the hundreds of nineteenth century carvings in the cave, Wolter is particularly interested in a carving he told locals that he will link to the Knights Templar. The carving, showing a straight line crossed by three perpendicular lines beside a curved line all enclosed in a circle, cannot be absolutely dated. Local heritage experts who examined the carving in 2012 suggested it could be medieval in origin, perhaps from the twelfth century. Based on reports that Knights Templar had been in the area in the Middle Ages, one suggestion is that the carving was intended as Cross of Lorraine. However, there is no proof that the symbol was carved by the Templars.
A competing, and better supported, hypothesis is that the carving is, like every other known piece of graffiti in the cave, an eighteenth or nineteenth century creation. Archaeologist Douglas Speirs had this to say about the carving in 2014:
So I would read the Wemyss Caves carving as someone’s monogrammed initials, specifically, a capital letter “T” and a smaller letter “C” all contained within a circular incised cartouche. However, what has confused things is the carver’s excessive use of artistic flourishes, specifically, the decorative use of serifs and the addition of a decorative, serifed cross bar on the “T”. This makes the letter difficult to read and gives it the appearance of a letter “E” or even of a Christian heraldic cross device, similar in form to a Cross Lorraine or a Greek cross crosslet. […] I am quite sure that this is just a mid-19th century monogrammed initial left by a visitor to the Caves. I do not think it has any deeper significance or meaning although I would note that the carving does look cross-like and is similar to crosses known from Templar sites.
I don’t care about the symbol since the Victorians were more than capable of imitating medieval styles (e.g. Gothic Revival architecture). But even if it were medieval, the Knights Templar did exist in Scotland and it would hardly be unusual to discover evidence of this fact. Indeed, standard histories of Fife quite clearly discuss local Templars and the rather light hand Scotland took in investigating them after the Pope suppressed the order in 1307.
I am more concerned about how this ties in to fringe history.
It seems rather evident that Wolter wants to re-date the carving the to the Middle Ages in order to make it agree with material appearing in Diana Muir’s alleged “translation” of the so-called journals of Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, the medieval Scottish noble whom fringe historians falsely believe was a member of the Templar order decades after its suppression and used his Templar super-secret decoder ring to navigate to America and leave a genetic legacy among Native Americans.
Muir published her so-called “translation” of what she claimed to be nineteenth century copies of medieval journals left by Sinclair. She claimed to have disposed of the originals, leaving only her translation. The relevant passage is dated “29 Sep 1388” (as medieval were wont to date their entries!). The boldface text (bold in the original) is the supposed language of Sinclair, while the commentary belongs to Muir. All punctuation is as given in the book:
“29 Sep 1388”
According the Muir’s commentary for the 2 February 1388 entry referencing the “Templari” who live in “the cliffs of Wemyss,” Muir believes that the Wemyss caves were a natural “hiding place” for the imaginary lost fleet of the Templars—the armada of boats that supposedly left France eight decades earlier, despite this navy being known only from a single reference to “galleys” in the coerced and demonstrably false testimony under torture of one Templar at a papal trial. Muir specifically states that “The caves are vast and contain drawings and artifacts that can be linked to the Templars.”
Muir’s source for that claim is a blog post from Archaeology News Network about the 2012 research into Well Cave’s medieval carving, and isn’t it just a coincidence that Muir’s reference to Templars in the Wemyss Caves happened to emerge after the media claimed Templars had camped out in those caves?
The Wemyss Cave inscription became briefly popular with Canadian fringe believers in 2012 because the line crossed by three horizontal bars resembled a graffito on Haystack Rock on Long Island in Placentia Bay in Newfoundland. Among other unusual symbols on the rock is a line cut by three horizontal bars. The heavily stylized letters likely are nineteenth century initials (Speirs believes the inscription reads “E. L. Mst,” for “E. L., Master (of the ship),” but believers have used it to speculated about transoceanic contact between Templar groups, evidenced only by badly carved graffiti, since all secret organizations ambiguously mark their imagined territory with confusing scribbles so that no one will understand the claim.
Three guesses what Scott Wolter is planning to “investigate” when America Unearthed, or whatever the new iteration of the show will be called, returns to cable.
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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