French-born William the Seemly St Clair arrived in Scotland in the 11th century as principal escort of Scottish King Malcolm Canmore’s bride-to-be, Margaret. He carried a distinctive shield emblazoned with an engrailed black cross on silver which marked him out as a Templar Knight.
For ensuring the safe passage of the monarch’s bride he was awarded the lands at Rosslyn. Under such patronage of royalty and through continuing associations with the Templar Knights, the St Clair dynasty flourished.
As the Templar Knights became the richest organization in the western hemisphere, the St Clairs became the richest family in Scotland.
Cleverly, Templars made loans to most of the crowned heads and prelates, thus retaining them metaphorically – and literally – in their debt. In the early 14th century, however, the Templar reign of supremacy came to an end when King Philip of France – one of their greatest debtors – set out with the backing of the Pope to destroy them with accusations of heresy and idolatry. In a Europe ensnared in a religious frenzy, Templars were quickly slaughtered, imprisoned or tortured.
A precious few however managed to flee and one of the few countries offering sanctuary was Scotland. Papal dictates held little sway there since the excommunication of Robert the Bruce and his countrymen for refusing to recognize England’s Edward II as King.
Rosslyn was an obvious destination and, according to Wallace-Murphy, the St Clair family chapel would become a suitable depository for Templar treasure.
It was not until a century later that the chapel foundations were laid by Earl William Sinclair who designed not only the shape and structure of the building but every carving himself.
Due to his substantial patronage of Stonemasonry, the Earl was made Master of the Craft, a title which became hereditary in the St Clair family until St Andrew’s Day 1736 when another Sir William St Clair of Rosslyn resigned his patronage and directorship of the Masonic craft to effect the erection of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland. He immediately became the lodge’s first elected Grand Master.
The St Clairs managed to blend their Masonic and Templar allegiances extremely well. Rosslyn -which to this day is used as a place of initiation by the Templar order – is said to be littered with references to both. Masonic-influenced carvings, supposedly include the array of five-pointed stars and the dove in flight carrying the olive branch.
Wallace-Murphy claims other carvings are evidence of an early voyage to the New World.
Prince Henry St Clair – grandfather of the chapel’s founder is said to have made the journey over a century before Columbus, financed by displaced Templars looking for a safe haven to practice their ideas and enterprise.
In the chapel, there are accurate carvings of aloe and maize, plants supposedly unknown in Europe prior to Columbus’s voyage.
So were the St Claim indeed the trusted guardian of centuries old and sacrosanct treasures? No matter how much Wallace-Murphy believes the sum of Rosslyn’s parts is greater than a collection of carvings and a clutch of secret symbols, as yet, he has no tangible proof.
Plans, however, are afoot from American academics intending to scan the vaults and walls of, Rosslyn Chapel using the latest infrared technology to see if such treasures lie within.
Many wait with baited breath to see if Earl William’s centuries-old conundrum in stone is finally willing to give up its secrets.