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Knights Templar: Balantrodoch Preceptory

The Templars had a large number of estates in Scotland, and the 1185 inventory of Templar properties only applied to England, and the inventory which should have taken place after their arrest, never took place in Scotland.  In 1312, the Pope decreed the suppression of the Templars, but King Edward II locked in conflict with Scotland had no intention of enforcing it.

In 1153 King David I of Scotland (1124-1153), granted the knights Templar a parcel of land, to the south of Edinburgh.  Here upon this site, the Order of the Knights Templar established a Preceptory at, and so was born; Temple Church, Temple Mid-Lothian.  This Preceptory became the greatest centre of the Templars in Scotland, where upon they administered their Scottish sites, for the lifetime of the Order, across Scotland.

A gift from a Scottish King carried much weight, as others followed in his footsteps in granting them lands.

King Malcolm IV of Scotland (1153-1165) donated a complete homestead within every burgh throughout his kingdom of Scotland.

William the Lion (1165-1214) gave to the Knights Templar, the barony of Maryculter which comprised of 8,000 acres.

It is said Alexander I – II & III along with Robert I & II, James I – III & IV went on to increase Templar Estates from the Royal Exchequer.

Members of Scotland’s nobility, bestowed gifts upon the “Order” which included much lands.

With the Order of the Knights Templar suppressed in 1312, Templars were outlawed, and their lands and buildings were supposed to pass into Hospitalliers hands, whose Scottish seat was at Torphichen in West Lothian.  The Pope’s orders were seldom followed, as was the case here.

The old Templar Church continued to serve the people of the parish for many centuries, until it fell into ruin in the 19th century.

The ruined church is located to the west of the village, in the South Esk valley, which runs alongside the River Esk.  It is believed the church dates back to early 14th century, and still standing within, one can find late gothic tracery, with animal carvings at the end of the mouldings, located above the old windows.

The original church had a round nave, like many Templar churches, a look alike of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  The church roof has long since gone… with some walls still remaining.  The west end was the entrance to the church, with the altar at the east end.  Surprisingly the carved piscina had survived, with old niches carved into the walls, where once would have housed tombs, but these are long gone now. 

Gravestones in the old graveyard bearing the symbols of carved skull and crossbones, one associated with death and the Knights Templar.  Masonic symbols can be found; the trowel denotes the symbol of a builder.  An egg timer = the passing of time, plus the classic compass and set square.

Village Headstone: John Craig Outerston, a farmer who died in 1742 is shown wearing Sunday best clothes with his children.

A solitary preceptory arch stands in a field to the eastern part of the village, once the main entrance to a former   stands Templars Manor House.

One event which involved William a preceptor and Templar of Ballentrodoch and his wife Christiane of Esperston.

William gifted the family home to the Templar Order in return for renting the said property, thus creating a life without financial hardships.

William suddenly died, his wife Christiane was penniless, and now the family home belonged to the Templar Order.  Which led to a Templar preceptor casting poor Christiane and her children from the former family home.  As she clutched at the door, her fingers were cut off by a sword at the hands of a Templar.

A distraught and homeless Christiane went to Newbattle Abbey where Edward I was staying and pleaded her case to him, and he so ordered her property be returned to her.  Not long after, war broke out and she found herself evicted once again. Richard her son, pleaded her case to Brian de Jay of the Templar Order.  Her property was once again returned to her, in return for her son acting as a guide for Welsh troops under the command of Brian de Jay.  It was nothing more than a trap, for Richard was murdered by Welsh troops by order of Brian de Jay.

At the Templar Trials, Brian de Jay was accused of acts of heresy, even though he could not answer the charges, having been killed at the ‘Battle of Falkirk.’  One Thomas Tocci de Thoroldeby claimed he had referred to Christ as being a mere man, and not a God.

Local legends has it that some of the Templar Treasure from Paris made its way to Scotland, and was hidden by Templar Knights at Balantrodoch.

The saying goes: “Twixt the oak and the elm tree.  You will find buried the millions free.”

Wikipedia Images:
Balantrodoch Chapel
Preceptory Arch

In Search of the Knights Templar by Simon Brighton.

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