In Shropshire, a county in the UK, there lies a peculiar rabbit hole in the middle of a farmer’s field. If you were to walk past it, you’d just think it was an ordinary hole in the ground, but let’s take a closer look!
According to legend, the Caynton Caves in Shropshire were used as a hideout in the 17th century by the followers of the Knights Templar. But before we tuck into all of that, let’s learn a bit about who the Knights Templar were…
The Knights Templar have a pretty interesting history. After Christians captured Jerusalem during the first Crusade, many Western Europeans began making the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In 1118, a French knight named Hugues de Payens founded a military order that served to protect these pilgrims. They called it the “Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon.”
You may recognize their iconic uniform by the white habit and bright red cross.
In 1129 the Order, which eventually shortened its name to the “Knights Templar,” received the formal endorsement of the Catholic Church. At this point interest skyrocketed and the Knights enjoyed countless donations and new recruits. Soon enough, the Knights Templar were a huge force throughout Western Europe.
In the late 12th century, Muslim soldiers took control of Jerusalem, forcing the Knights Templar to relocate their base to Paris. While the Knights resided in Paris, King Philip IV vowed to destroy the Order, most likely because they had refused to pay him several loans. Under the pressure of King Philip, Pope Clement V completely dissolved the Knights Templar in 1312.
No one’s exactly sure whether the caves were actually used by the Knights Templar, but some historians believe they were built in the late 18th or early 19th century, which would’ve been hundreds of years after the the Order was dissolved.
Most historians are in agreement that the Knights Templar no longer exists as an organization today and hasn’t been active in 700 years, but there are some who believe the Order went underground (perhaps literally?) and actually operated for much longer than was originally thought.
8. Hidden In Plain Sight
After seeing a video of the Caynton Caves online, photographer Michael Scott set out to document them. The cave is located less than one meter underground, which makes you wonder how no one discovered them sooner!
Scott says that he “traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn’t know it was there then you would just walk right past it. Considering how long it’s been there it’s in amazing condition, it’s like an underground temple.” The caves have reportedly been used in modern times for “black magic rites.”
The cave goes into a network of passages, some that require visitors to get on their hands and knees due to being extremely cramped. It also features archways and walkways carved out of sandstone. It’s pretty incredible how those candles have stayed burning for all of these years. (Only joking.)
Scott says that he “had to crouch down and once I was in there it was completely silent. There were a few spiders in there but that was it. It was raining so the slope down was quite sludgy but inside the cave was bone dry.”