KILWINNING could rival Rosslyn Chapel as a major tourist attraction in the wake of claims it is the final resting place of the Holy Grail.
The Irvine Herald can reveal an historic archaeological dig is to take place in the town’s Abbey grounds.
The project is to be carried out by Irvine Bay Regeneration after actor turned historian, Jamie Morton, a recognised expert on Freemasonry, revealed the artefact used by Christ at The Last Supper could have been hidden in the town by the Knights Templar.
He based his theory on historical documents he has uncovered and the town’s close connections with The Masonic Order.
Mr Morton has compiled the evidence in his latest book, the foreword of which is being written by members of The Mother Lodge in Kilwinning. The 29-year-old author said: “Historians have been searching for a Templar haven where the members sheltered after their downfall.
“Several places have been pinpointed but all of them are false, I have found that Kilwinning and nearby Irvine had the highest concentration of Templar Knights in Scotland.
“The Templars were Europe’s bankers and when they were destroyed, none of the material was returned, it disappeared, so it is possible that it is in Kilwinning or Irvine.”
One leading member of the Lodge said he hoped the findings would bring the importance of Kilwinning to Freemasonry to the rest of the world.
He said: “It’s great for the town and while I can’t claim to be an authority on the topic of the Holy Grail, it certainly has shown just how important Freemasonry is to the world.
“I am interested to know what lies beneath this street as there are wells underneath the surface, who knows what’s buried there?”
Jim Miller, spokesman for the ancient Abbey Tower, welcomed the findings.
“It’s great news for the town as people will be coming from all over to find out more about Kilwinning’s connection to the Holy Grail.
“We have a number of artefacts in the Tower but I’m afraid I don’t know the whereabouts of this particular cup.
“I know there are people who follow the Grail Trail and travel all over the world, you just have to appreciate how popular Rosslyn Chapel became following the Da Vinci Code claims so we should be expecting a lot more people in the town.”
Kilwinning is thought to be the resting place of the Holy Grail after information was found to suggest The Templars had a major presence in the town.
And he rubbished the claim that Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, was where the Grail was hidden.
“There were no Templars in Rosslyn as the building was constructed after the Templars were destroyed, while Kilwinning Abbey was built shortly after the Templars were created – Rosslyn Chapel is an enigma, a beautiful building but nothing to do with the Templars.”
Rosslyn Chapel was saved from certain closure as its visitors shot up from 30,000 to over 120,000 a year with the release of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code book and subsequent Hollywood film starring Tom Hanks.
Now, the search is on as Holy Grail trailers who travel the world looking for evidence about the cup – said to have mystical powers – are expected to invade Kilwinning on the hunt for the Holy Grail.
Hot spots where it could be include:
l The Mercat Cross outside the original Mason’s Howff in the Main Street. It is said in Kilwinning folklore that the cross is believed by some to have been part of the original wooden cross on which Jesus was crucified.
l The Abbey Church grounds. The Tower already has a feasibility study for an archaeological dig approved and Irvine Bay Regeneration have also talked of making the town an open dig to draw tourists.
l The Mother Lodge – the new lodge was built next to the Abbey Church and Tower, could this be standing on top of the Holy Grail?
l The Main Street itself – it has already been the subject of an archaeological dig by Irvine Development Corporation. Could it be hiding the Christian chalice?
If Mr Morton’s theory is proved, Kilwinning could hold the keystone to re-writing history and give the Main Street a boost with the tourist trade.
by Lorraine Howard, Irvine Herald