"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...