The Quest for the Holy Grail (part 17)

17 – Rosslyn

Might it not be possible that the mandylion… is buried under Rosslyn
chapel awaiting discovery at some future time Mark Oxley




On continental Europe, the Mandylion was last seen or heard of in 1287 by the Knights Templar initiate, Arnaut Sabbatier. After this it simply disappeared, more than likely during the fall-out of the Papal persecution of the Templar’s in 1307. Spearheaded by the French king, Philip IV, on Friday 13th of that year (after which it became a most inauspicious day) all the top Templars & scores of others were arrested & most of them later executed upon torture-drawn confessions for mostly made-up misdemeanours. Suddenly the Pope & the King controlled all the Templar lands & finances, which of course was a completely  unpredictable bonus.

Some of the priceless Templar treasures were spirited out of the country, however, when 50 Templars sailed from La Rochelle with sacred relics dating from the Crusades. French Legend has it that some of the treasures were taken to Scotland, where by 1314 a host of Templars were fighting alongside the equally excommunicated Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. The knights were said to have landed on the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, which naturally leads to the River Esk & onto the village of Temple.
Founded on lands given to the order by David I of Scotland in 1127, the village of Temple was once home to the main Templar receptory (headquarters) in Scotland. To this day, a local proverb tells us that at Temple, ‘Twixt the oak and the elm tree/You will find buried the millions free.’ The treasure may even be connected to a strange stone found at Tenmple, dated to the Templar era, which sports a curious pacman symbol (see below & red arrow).


That the Mandylion was among the Templar Treasures is suggested by the presence of the Mandylion amongst the cornucopian carvings of Rosslyn Chapel. There is a sculptured tableau atop a pillar cornice, on which a headless figure holds up a piece of material sporting the  face of Christ. The presence of the Mandylion at Rosslyn would help to explain the mystery behind the chapel’s steps, which were said to have been worn down by pilgrims who had traveled to Rosslyn from northern Spain.


The Mandylion at Rosslyn
The Mandylion at Rosslyn


The answer is to be found in the Sudarium of Oviedo, said to be the face cloth used in the burial of Christ. A pilgrim, after seeing the Sudarium, would complete the set so to speak by travelling to Rosslyn to see the other material associated with the death & resurrection of Christ. Mark Oxley writes; ‘Folklore recounts how pilgrims in their thousands traveled there’after completing the arduous trek to the shrine of St James of Compostela.’ 


Sudarium of Oviedo
Sudarium of Oviedo



Building on Rosslyn chapel officially commenced in 1446, direcetd by local nobleman, Sir William Sinclair. He’d actually had a group of builders & masons on his hands since 1441 – perhaps even to build a secret underground chamber or a tunnel to his castle? I believe that to this day, perhaps in a secret compartment of the chapel’s crypt, or possibly wrapped around the body of on the buried Templars, the Mandylion can still be found at Rosslyn. Way back in 1546, the Queen Regent, Marie Guise, recalls a ‘secret’ shown to her at Rosslyn, while Sir Walter Scott wrote of Knights of the Grail being buried there.



For the moment, all we may do is speculate, for Historic Scotland controls the site & any excavatory work is forbidden. Local project director, Stuart Beattie, says, ‘We are not in the business of being grail hunters at the moment, although I think there are members of the trust and a lot of the public who would like to see invasive investigations. The immediate priority is to focus on conservation work, and then perhaps the trust might turn its attention to more esoteric matters.’

So I guess we’ll just have to wait….

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