Wednesday, March 22, 2017

You Never Know What You’ll Find Down the Rabbit Hole! Were the Spooky Caynton Caves a Secret Templar Sanctuary?

Ancient Origins

There is a fascinating and creepy underground sanctuary located in Shropshire, England known as the Caynton Caves. Allegedly linked to the famous Knights Templars and black magic rituals, legends say the caves date back 700 years. But finding the spooky caves isn’t the easiest of tasks. It all begins with going down the right rabbit hole…

 Although the caves are less than a meter below surface, you may not have the easiest of times if you decide to go looking for them. Michael Scott, from Birmingham, recently decided to search them out and photograph them. He told BBC News "I traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn't know it was there you would just walk right past it.”

Entrance to the Caynton Caves/Grotto. (Richard Law/CC BY SA 2.0)

Perhaps this secret spot was chosen for a reason. One of the most popular local legends says that the sandstone caves were carved by Knights Templars looking for a place to worship without persecution.

The Templars was one of the most renowned military orders during the Middle Ages. The source of their fame came not only from their prowess on the battlefield, but also from the wealth they amassed during the Crusades. The Knights Templars were founded around 1118-1119 in Jerusalem by the French knight Hugh des Payens. Often regarded as a “secret society” the Templars have been linked to many mysteries, treasures, and important religious relics lost throughout the ages, such as the Holy Grail, Ark of the Covenant, and the Shroud of Turin.

Composite image of members of the Knights Templar (Public Domain) and a treasure pile. (CC BY SA 2.0)

But the Templars weren’t the only ones to allegedly use the Caynton Caves, Dominic Wass, an urban artist who has a workshop nearby, told UK Urban Exploration some other stories about others using (or perhaps creating) the site. These range from a landowner illegally keeping 60 slaves at the site, to an eccentric wealthy family from the 1850s thinking it would just be great fun to have such a spooky place.

 When you find the cave entrance, BBC News says that you enter a tunnel which leads you to “a network of walkways and arches carved out of sandstone, as well as a font.” Some of the areas of the cave are so cramped that you’d have to crawl on your hands and knees to pass through. The cave walls depict mystic sigils (seals), mixed with more modern graffiti.

Photos inside the Caynton Caves. (UK Urban Exploration)

 Mr. Scott described his experience inside the Caynton Caves for BBC News, saying “I had to crouch down and once I was in 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.”

Recent tales suggest that local cults have chosen the out-of-the-way location for black magic and other rituals. Modern (and possibly ancient?) Druids have also been connected to the Caynton Caves. UK Urban Exploration suggests that the landowners had been mostly accommodating to the sects, good or evil, if they asked permission to use the site - and took good care of it.

But some of the more sinister ceremonies, and a lack of respect for the Caynton Caves, led local residents to close up the site a few years ago. Nonetheless, wrought iron gates, barbed wire, brambles, a large mastiff, and CCTV haven’t been enough to keep some people away.

Candles and litter scattered about a passageway in the Caynton Caves. (Richard Law/CC BY SA 2.0)

 Now, the Shropshire Star say there are rumors going around that the creepy Caynton caves have been re-opened, however, this has not yet been confirmed by the landowners.

Photo inside the Caynton Caves. (UK Urban Exploration)

Top Image: Recent photos of the candle-lit Caynton Caves. Source: Shropshire Star

By Alicia McDermott

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