Random derelict religious sites always fascinate me. Especially when they're not right in your face like your typical church. A hidden worshiping spot usually indicates taboo. 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!
The mainstream media call this a rabbit hole. I guess the only rabbit they've ever seen is General Woundwort. It's more of a very large badger hole, situated beneath a tree. One wonders if thats exactly what it was intended to look like.
I've blogged about this place before. Now, I was armed with a camera, and as it was my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a re-adventure.
Just look at this place!
Allegedly this "archaeological site" was created in the 1100s by followers of the Knights Templar for them to worship in secret. But sadly all information traces back to the same source, a news article from the 21st Century which focused 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.
Because thats what people do when they want the public to keep out of their secret cave- tell the mainstream media about it so everyone will know its there.
Allegedly after cleaning out beer cans and other rubbish, including two discarded cloaks, the owners were met by hooded robed figures on their own front door, who had their faces painted and wanted their cloaks back. It was all a little scary for the owners so they had the caves sealed and CCTV installed.
Except the cave is clearly open, theres no evidence of cameras, and since the originating article is from the Daily Mail, I'm just surprised those faced-painted robed folks weren't alleged to be immigrants too.
The media sensationalises this cult approach, and especially the caves origins as usage for the Knights Templar. However besides a few headlines designed to sell papers, there seems to be no evidence actually connecting these caves to the templars whatsoever.
In regards to this place getting misused by visitors, it does indeed have decorations of leftover cans and bottles. The walls are crammed with a mixture of symbols from its construction 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.
While the part about the Knights Templar is clearly a fabrication designed to sell newspapers, I do wonder if the caves have any significance to local cults. There are a few little groups in Shropshire that practice witchcraft and whatnot, and the symbols indicate some sort of hidden religious site.
Its an altsr positioned in a triangular archway that truly captures the imagination. Someone told me once that triangular archways are a sign of black magic but I'm not sure if thats true. Nevertheless of all the other odd things here, 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. With the altar so close, it's easy for the imagination to get carried away. Perhaps there was some sort of statue or ornament placed here decades ago.
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 disguising it as something else, a symbol that also conveniently represented 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 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 lessers 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.
In regards to the caves continued usage, I've dabbled with photoshoots here, most notably my buddy Jess, who looks fucking epic in the chair mode, the flowery outfit clashing with the dark environment.
But that's that.
When it comes to factual information, there seems to be very little. Everything is purely speculative.
What we do know is that the Victorians had a thing for wacky follys, and with a great big hall not far away, its likely part of their former estate.
It is fun to let the imagination roam free though!
The internet is full of people who claim to be "The First" to find this, because that makes them feel special. As the graffiti will testify, they weren't. Not unless the ancients prayed to the Great Lord and Saviour, Dave.
All Hail Dave.
On my first visit here a chap in his forties showed up with his entire family and said that he was showing his kids the cave he used to play in when he was little, so it's been known about for decades at least.
A chap on Facebook going by Martin James also recently drew my attention to a newspaper article about the caves from 1954.
It's worth noting purely because every time the media talks about this place, they talk as if its all been recently discovered. It hasn't. Don't fall for their sensationalism.
But one has to wonder 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 altars don't just pop up out of nowhere. Someone built this place for a purpose, and it's the dedication and effort that makes its subsequent neglect rather sad.
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