"O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content"
Robbie Burns

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Knights Templar in Scotland

Today's post is for my friends at the Knights Templar group on Shelfari.  I thought I would answer the question about the picture that adorns the our group site.  This is all that is left of the Scottish headquarters of the Knights Templar. This arch can be found in a field behind a row of houses next to a children's playground.  As with most ruins of historical relevance this has not been been disturbed by locals to expand their properties. 

The location of this arch is thougth to be the entrance to the headquarters of the Scottish perceptory at Balantradoch. The land for this headquarters of the Scottish Templars was granted by David I in 1153 which included a monastary on the east bank of River South Esk and a working farm. Later when the Knights Templar were brought down by  Pope Clement V and the King of France in 1307 the two Knights Templar who remained at Balantradroch were brought to trial. 

What is interesting is that the St Clair(Sinclair) family of nearby Rosslyn were part of the local nobles who sati in judgement at that trial and did NOT defend the Knights Templar. This has always seemed odd because popular history would have us believe that the St Clair family were very much a part of the Knights Templar movement and history in Scotland. However, it is important to note that the two Templar Knights at Balantradroch who were tried were English Knights, and not Scots.  One can only wonder if the Templar had been Scottish. Unfortunately prior to this the Templars at Balantradroch did fight with King Edward I and their leader in Scotland was killed by William Wallace. They had a bad reputation near the end because of turing out a widow from her own land, so much so she petition and won redress from King Edward I. 

One can't discount the closeness of Balantradoch to Rosslyn Glen, the home of the St Clair family. While in Scotland on my last trip my host at the Orchard House B/B, showed me on a map if one were to draw a line from the current chapel in Rosslyn (which wasn't there at the time of the Knights Templars at Balantrodoch) and to another known Templar site in the region (a stand of trees which supposedly important to Templar Knights)
and to Temple (Balantradoch) one creates a perfect triangle.  There is some significance to this in Templar lore.

What is also interesting in the region is that the perceptory, which after the downfall of the Knights Templar, was given to the Hospitallers in 1312, and  is located not far from Scotland's only known medieval hospital at Soutra Aisle

There are those who believe the three areas all have some sort of mystical connection with each other, but one has to wonder how if the Chapel at Rosslyn wasn't built until 136 years later. After the  little known Battle of Roslyn in 1302, Sir Henry St Clair was encouraged by one of his English captives to move the Roslyn Castle from the hill side where the Chapel now stands, down into the glen along the river where the current castle ruins are located.  

Either way the small arch (above) and the ruins of the Parish Kirk are all that remain with a possible connection to the original Scottish Templar Headquarters. However, it is believed that many of the Templars who were able to escape capture on the Continent came to Scotland because at the time King Robert Bruce had been excommunicated by the Pope for his deed against Red Comyn in Greyfrairs Kirk in Dumfries which resulted in Comyn's death. So Bruce was no longer honoring any of the Papal bulls,which created in Scotland a safe haven for Templars.  Many  of the Templars were from France and with  Scotland's "auld alliance with France escaping to Scotland was a natural. So even though the Parish Kirk that now stands in ruins in Temple is said to be built by the Hospitallers, there are aspects of clear Templar influence, a possible result of any number of Templars who  found safe haven not only in Scotland but also  with the Hospitallers in Scotland . 

The small village became Temple in honor of its past in the 1500's and now is just a quaint one lane village in the valley of the River South Esk. 

More on Rossly Chapel next time...


The Anne Boleyn Files said...

It's a shame that the arch is the only thing that still exists but great that it too hasn't been pulled down.
An interesting post and great blog. I love reading about history and the Kinghts Templar are so interesting.
Has Rosslyn become a tourist attraction since Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code?

Jody said...

As to Rosslyn Chapel being a tourist attraction, YES!!! the first two times back in the 90's I went you maybe had a couple of other people while you were there but the last time there was probably about 40 people and they now bring in bus loads it is on most of the tour routes. Best time to go is early morning or just about 4 in the afternoon. Much calmer then. I liked it better before.

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

Fascinating, Jody. I knew about Bruce and the Papal bull, but not about the triangulation of the churches. Since I am leery of coincidences, it seems logical to think such building was intentional. Lots of great ideas fomenting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am a Scottish Knight Templar and have been researching Temple for four years, this is concerning the photo of the Arch in the upper field of Temple Village.

I would like to point out that this was part of Temple House, this was built by Stephen Boyd just after the Reformation, The Arch has nothing to do with the Templars.

Boyd knocked down all the grand buildings that were attached to the Temple Church, in turn Temple house was demolished in 1760 and the stones were used for building the new Village.

I discovered the top part of a Templar Float Stone in 2006 it is dated as 13th or 14th century, it is now in Rosslyn Chapel.

Best Regards.


Jody said...

Can you provide me with the source on this information because I was given this information by a scholarly source and if it is wrong then I would like to know. I don't doubt your statement only want to know the source so I can learn more.

It seems to me though if it had nothing to do with the Temple and was only of the Renasiannce period why the big deal of keeping it up? Especially if it has nothing to do with the original preceptory of the KTs?

Hope you respond to me at

Anonymous said...

Hi Jody,

I got the information a few years ago from a local Library Learning Centre, but for the life of me I am unable to remember what book it came from.

The Arch as far as I am aware of is venirated by the Free Masons, I think they are called the Scottish Royal Arch Masons. The large house known as Temple House was last owned by a man called Patrick Murray of the house of Deuchar, when he passed away the property was taken over by the Dundas family of Arniston House, this is when Dundas invited people to purchase the stones and build the new Village.

I think that somewhere the Masons got it all wrong, they were thinking of a chap called Alexander Deuchar who was a " Seal " maker from Newington in my home town of Edinburgh. Alexander was a high up Free Mason and a Knight Templar, he was responsible for starting an Order of Knights Templar in Scotland that were not Masonic.

I have heard people saying that the Arch was the gateway to the Templar Baracks this is all wrong. I have heard people visiting the graveyard pointing to headstones saying they were Templar, these people were Tour Operators and well known, I had to explain what was what, it turns out they knew nothing about the area or the history they were trying to preach.

Stephen Boyd as I mentioned on the last blog was the Laird of Temple, the old Church the Templars built had a large round Tower, Boyd was responsible for knocking it down and the fine large buildings that were attached to it.

I have read material on the internet and some of the modern books concerning Temple or as it was originally known as " Balantrodach " by well known Authors,they eaither write a small section on Temple or what they write is totally garbage.

For instance at the moment a Knight Templar I know has written a book on an 1836 painting of a Knight Templar at Rosslyn Chapel, he states that in the painting there is a staircase leading to hidden vaults.
The painting is in mirror fashion as the Apprentice Pillar should be on the right, and the stair he mentions actuall leads to the Crypt that is open to the public.
The public will buy this book and because the man is good with words they will take what he has written as gospel.

I will try and trace the source of the material I read Jody and pass it on to you.

This is the url to the Scottish Knights Templar Order I am in, my ranks is Knight Commander.

Best regards.


Anonymous said...

i have a handwritten manuscript references of several degrees and bears the seal by Alexander Deuchar numbered 107.

Anonymous said...

strange links and claims
try this site for some leads on info

the Sinclairs(St Clairs) actually were against the Templars and spoke against them in the edinburgh trials, they were never part of the Templars.
Luckily the king found their testimony false.

Jody said...

I am not sure what your source is for the Sinclairs because in Helen Nicolson's new book (THE KNIGHTS TEMPAR ON TRAIL: The Trial of the Templars in the British Isles 1308-1311- copyright 2009) on page 140 she states that Henry Sinclair or St Clair and a neighbor Lord Hugh of Rydale DID NOT speak against the Templars at their Trial in Edinburgh. However, William- Henry's son- did speak against them along with a number of other young lords but it was determined that they had no real knowledge, it was more a case of missing out on going on Crusade, blaming the loss of the Holy Lands on the Templars. Nicolson is a scholar not a popular historan and her source was MS A Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley MS 454 158v

Thanks for the sites, I will check them out. I tend to think that the later Sinclairs were connected with other military orders which may have held the ideals of the Templar.

Jody said...

Hello. You do not know me, but I was bored and was searching for my name on google search. My name is Jody St.Clair, and I thought it was weird that you were talking about St.Clairs and your name is Jody. That was weird enough, but today is July 29, 2010...exactly one year from the date of this blog. I am not superstitious by any means, but I thought this was coincidental enough that I would mention it to you. I guess this does not need a reply, but maybe you will find it as interesting as I did.
Jody St.Clair

Anonymous said...

The order of the Knights templar were Masons. That Is 100 percent confirmed.

Naveed Ahmed

Jody said...

Having researched the KT extensively they were not Masons, the Freemasons ( who also were not stone masons) maybe taken the ideals and ceremonies of the KTs but the KT's were never Masons. I don't know what your source is but I would question its validity. Nothing is ever in this time of thing 100% confirmed.

Skull and Bones said...

The Knights of the Temple to have gone thoroughly incorrect as an enterprise while many individual associates, their life shut off by techniques of behavior and need-fulfilment, were departed in lack of knowledge.

Archie Young said...

Peter St Clair-Erskine, 7th and current Earl of Rosslyn has ordered that the word Templar be removed from his ancestors stone, this proves they were never Templars, the removal on the stone is taking place now.

The St.Clairs never owned Balantrodach ( Temple Village )however they did own what is known now as Old Pentland Village. They also built a Chapel which is now a Reservoir this was buried in the 1800's.

The Arch in the field at Temple Village was left there as a reminder of the once great house that stood there " Temple House ", the Arch is protected by Historic Scotland.

Anonymous stated that the Templars were Masons, the Templars were never Masons the Free Masons were not started until the 1700's, this is putting the Cart before the Horse, all the Free Masons state they are off the Templars they should read their history.

jbhogg said...

The Scottish Freemasons have Minute books which are dated from 1598.
I have read their history you have not.

Anonymous said...

The free Masons were started in Scotland so your dates are wrong.
I am sick and tired hearing that the Masons were off the Knights Templar when they were not.
Why don't some go to the Library and look for the real truth rather than read some Masonic garbage because that is what it is. Even the Grand Lodge of Scotland has claimed that what is being stated is all wrong.

Grizzled Gramps said...

It seems a year ago, since this topic went silent. I am intrigued by the myths & history, nonetheless.
My family members includes a brother, graduate studies of Eastern European History, who believes our ancestors may have had Scottish, Irish, (Celtic) DNA "inheritance".

Our own daughter, (BScN), worked in London, UK hospital, where certain elder patients indicated to her that they were able to "place" her heritage as being among a certain (tribe?) locale, by the appearance of her facial and hair profile.

Interesting, but not confirmed or supported by unequivocal evidence.
As we continue our search for the origins of our "kind", it becomes ever more interesting.

There is an interesting storied island off the East coast of Nova Scotia, which has a captivating connection to the European Knights Templar, not the least of which is held in Scotland. The idea expressed is that the KT may well have sailed to this island, to store ancient treasures. It is said that they preceded Christopher Columbus.

Two American brothers are the most recent to attempt to establish voracity to the folklore surrounding Oak Island. They purchased the island, and have used much modern technology, and (as much as I know of the story, to date), have failed to descend into the ground as far as the hunter/historian before them.

The former hunter managed to hand dig down to 181 feet, in round tunnel shape, shored up with concrete and at the top, with steel rail tankers, welded together in vertical, to approximately 60 ft.
That particular man then drilled a 27 inch diameter hole, down to 232 feet depth. Exploratory drilling (smaller hollow sample drill) showed he had encountered clay, ancient concrete, and layered wood wall (as one would expect to get when drilling down through the wall of a log building). Unfortunately, he ran out of money, and could go no further.
The current brothers have co-opted the former, elderly man by now, and are determined to reveal to him, (and themselves), just what it is that lies in a cavern, revealed by sonar, when sent down through the water-filled pipes.
It captures the imaginations of many, including the provincial government of Nova Scotia, who has claimed any findings of this current group, should there be any, for the provincial archives/museum.