Sunday, 26 July 2015

return to the Knights Templar grotto

Random derelict religious sites always fascinate me. Especially covert worship. What prompted a bunch of Shropshire residents hundreds of years ago to dig an entire underground worshiping spot disguised as an innocent looking badger hole? I mean that takes dedication! 

I've been here before. Now, I was armed with a camera, and as it was my birthday, some friends agreed to drive me back out there and save me a massive walk.

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: As an explorer, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or in this case, location. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offence rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a highly inadequate role model. )

Just look at this place!

Allegedly this "archaeological site" was created in the 1700s by followers of the Knights Templar for them to worship in secret. But sadly all information on the site traces back to the same news articles which told of the land owners plight as waves of cults, both good and bad, asked for permission to use this place for their rituals, and how gradually the place got trashed.

Finally, after cleaning out beer cans, and other rubbish, including two discarded cloaks, the owners were allegedly met by hooded robed figures on their own front door, who had their faces painted. They wanted their discarded cloaks back.
And as such, the caves were closed. CCTV was installed and the entrance was sealed.

Except it clearly wasn't. And since the originating article is from the Daily Mail, I'm just surprised those faced-painted robed folks weren't also alleged to be illegal immigrants wrongfully claiming benefits too.

In regards to this place getting misused by visitors, it does indeed have decorations of leftover cans and bottles, which baffles me because we must be miles from the nearest shop.  And the walls are crammed with a mixture of ancient symbols and modern wall scratchings. If anything this place serves as a testament to how everyones imaginations have slowly deteriorated. Long ago, people found sandstone and made mighty fine structures underground. Today, we get people writing "When u read this ur dead."

Seriously, it actually says that!

But I found the ancient symbols far more fascinating, and I haven't been able to learn their meanings, or find anyone who recognises them.

This triangle is lined with perfectly round, smooth circular indentations right on this shelf. And as you're probably noticing, someone has taken the time to decorate the place with candles. And why not? The place was pitch black!

Large circular indents were dotted here and there, with smaller circles in the middle.

This spot seemed to have particular detail, with a big central engraving between the two. The lower half seems eroded, but above it was a symbol of three large circles surrounded by little ones.

One of the more enduring symbols was this four-leaf clover design. 

And I almost missed this smaller one on one of the support pillars. The circular shape certainly seems to be the preference of whoever put these symbols here.

In all likelihood, the content of that Daily Mail article was a massive fabrication. Why would people sick of their caves being trashed tell the Daily Mail about it so that the entire country would know about it?

And just how many nefarious secret cults is Shropshire supposed to have???

Still, this was clearly a religious site. It has a sacrificial stone positioned in a triangular archway. Even among the other oddities this definitely stands out.

 The circular indents in this grey area have the letter K above them. I did some research into any religious significance behind the letter K. In particular how the K seems to be etched with those little bits sticking out at the back. It doesn't appear to be runic, but my knowledge in this area is somewhat limited to anglo-saxon Futhark, because I have a book on it. This isn't a Futhark symbol but I did wonder if it was a combination of two symbols but I can't see anything definite.

The letter K is more significant with Sikhs, but I really doubt this place has anything to do with them.

And as this close up shows, the circular indents are incredibly smooth. It made me wonder if these once housed gems or runestones. The layout could easily be attributed to a rune casting layout, and the proximity to what resembles an altar does hint that this particular cluster had some purpose. But check out how smooth these circles are!

Also across from the altar is this featureless archway, which must have had some significance, or else it wouldn't be there. It has occured to me that if that is genuinely a sacrificial stone, then the remains of the sacrifices might be hidden somewhere nearby and a doorway like this could have been an ideal spot to bury these away, but this is entirely speculative.

This particular area seems to have had a lot of work. The makers carved numerous archways to surround this tiny little shelf. In addition to the circular indents around the archways, there are circular indents under a shelf that are in a symbol resembling an anchor.

The anchor at first made me skeptical of any authenticity behind the symbols, but in actual fact, anchors have been symbolic in religions for centuries. Due to its obvious association with ships, it's a symbol of stability, and a rising anchor can be a symbol of ascending, and making progress. Anchor symbols have been found in the catacombs in Rome, and were used by early Christians. In the early days of Christianity, the Christians were met with a lot of intolerance and persecution from the Romans, and had to be discreet in their worship. The anchor was an inconspicuous way of retaining the cross, while also representing endurance of the current hardship. It's also the symbol of St Clement of Rome, who was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.

The ancient egyptians also used the anchor as a symbol of human creation, as the curved bottom represented the female and the erect upper portion represented the male. In fact quite a number of ancient symbols were oddly phalic. (I read once that even the hand gesture of sticking a thumb up at someone to symbolize positivity derived from representing an erection and sexual conquest. But I can't remember where I read it, so don't hold me to it.)

There was a chamber which seemed important somehow. The archway was decorated with this weird teeth design. 

The chamber was circular, with pillars on the left and right of the doorway, although these are decorative rather than support pillars, and again there are more of those clover symbols.

Facing the doorway is this solitary seat. It's always struck me as odd that this would just be here alone. Was it intended for one person to come here alone, or was it the seat of the leader while the lesser worshippers stood. Maybe it was the intended seat of a deity, and is just another symbol. I don't know.

I sat on it, but no deity reached down and told me off.

Finally, there was a part of the caves that I almost missed. This section was filled with dirt from either a collapse or a deliberate attempt at filling the cave in. But it had these interesting leaf designs.

With yet another circular symbol housing an old candle.  The floor of this chamber is obviously not the original floor, and who knows what one might discover if they dug it all out. Maybe this cave goes on beyond this point...

There was another smaller clover here, but with deeper outer circles. I have no idea why. 

And that's that.
When it comes to factual information, there are people several decades older than me who remember coming here when they were children, and being shown it by older family members, so its existence can be traced back quite a way. And from what I've heard, this place hasn't aged well in the 21st Century, with many saying that things have been vandalized and changed since they first came here. 

One has to wonder, why is this place so secret? Should it not be a tourist attraction? Surely that would protect it from further damage and erosion.
And what was it really? Who made it? Were the symbols part of the original layout or were they added over time as the caves became used by various different forms of worship?

And if this, to passing people, appears to be nothing more than a very large badger hole, how many more are dotted around that nobody has found?

Most of the hype concerning black magic cults in recent years seems to be just hype. It's a very remote place for a cult to come to, and when I last came here, the surrounding presence of nettles and brambles made it obvious nobody had been here in a while.
But needless to say, these sort of things require effort to make, and sacrificial altars don't just pop up out of nowhere. Someone built this place for a purpose, and it's the dedication and effort that truly amazes me. I can't imagine the level of faith in a deity one must have to build this place and all in the name of servitude to a higher power.

Regarding religion, I do tend to keep an open mind. I think belief and faith is often spoken of as if it were solid knowledge, and that goes for the absence of a deity as much as it goes for a belief in one. There is what I know, and what I do not know, and once this neat devision of the universe has the subtraction of belief, one comes to the fantastic realization that one actually knows very little about the world in general, and then it becomes impossible not to get off my arse and seek experiences and knowledge. All I have of the world is my perceptions, but as far as I know I have yet to come across a deity on my travels. And I've certainly yet to find an authority figure for whom I would contruct a detailed underground complex dedicated to their worship.

I imagine I wouldn't get along with God, given my usual inability to kneel for an authority figure anyway. Should I meet him, I'll have just that one important question- "God, if you made mankind in your own image, how come I'm so handsome?"

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  1. Thank you Luke for sharing this. Most interesting. I had lived in Shropshire for nearly 50 years and been oblivious to this place. (I dont read tabloid newspapers)

    1. Ah, well it's on private property and I was very naughty venturing in. You'd be surprised what gets hidden and forgotten when it's on private land!

  2. I know this place. On the outskirts of a town which begins with S & ends in L ;) I'm a keen explorer myself. Excellent blog.

  3. Hi Luke..I work for a Tv production company..we are looking for detelict location's..Can you help..the underground caves look fab but who owns it..and im interested in Brogyntyn Hall too..any ideas who owns it..
    Kindest regards Jenny Bryant

  4. The pillars make the use of this place fairly obvious, Freemasonry, it was rife in the 1700s, the pillars of Solomon's temple, the seat facing the entrance was occupied by a "Tyler" or watchman, more a temple than a church, it stinks of freemasonry.

  5. i tried to enter these caves in september 2018. They are totally wrapped uo in barbed wire fences and CCTV. i was gutted i couldnt get close. Plus it was broad daylight and didnt fancy trespassing!