History

A Knight’s Tale

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Paddy Houlihan from Ballybeg is maintaining and promoting an almost forgotten site of significant historic interest – the Knights Templar Graveyard, Kilbarry.

AN IMPORTANT piece of Waterford’s history and heritage is being preserved and promoted thanks to the Trojan efforts of one local man and his granddaughter.

In a fantastic display of community spirit and pride of place, Paddy Houlihan from Ballybeg Square embarked on a project to improve the condition of the Knights Templar Graveyard in Kilbarry some years ago.

Paddy had become increasingly concerned for the condition of the graveyard which is located near Lacken Road Business Park and Templars Hall.

The Knights Templar were an international military order set up to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.

They arrived in Ireland in the late 1100s after the Norman invasion of 1169-71 and the witnessing of an Irish charter by Matthew the Templar in 1177.

They fell out of favour with the King of France in 1307, were persecuted on the continent and closed down in England and Ireland.

Their estates were handed over to their rivals, the Knights Hospitaller, but Kilbarry was one of three preceptories in Ireland retained for the Templars for the remainder of their lives.

The remains of the church of St Barry are located within the Kilbarry Knights Templar Graveyard.
Beside the church, a row of mortared stone buildings with slate roofs were located along with a row of large wooden buildings, probably barns.

Records show that the church, which was located on a slope overlooking a tidal marsh that extended to the River Suir, was in good repair until 1615 when it was still in use and serving the parish. The earliest headstone in the graveyard dates back to 1598 and the latest is dated 1856.

The graveyard lay more or less idle since the mid-1800s and, in the modern era, was believed by many to have been a famine graveyard.

Paddy Houlihan says many local people, including himself and his family, have many fond memories of playing in the area. He recalls the graveyard being a favourite location in which to explore with his brothers and sisters when growing up. “Everybody around this side of the city played in the area,” he explained.

In recent years, Paddy became concerned because of the huge growths of ivy throughout the graveyard, the high grass growths, and the many overhanging trees.

Along with his granddaughter Katie (his trusted sidekick and ‘Project Manager’), they spent countless hours engaging in efforts to clean-up the graveyard. More than 40 headstones/tombstones are located in the graveyard and, during the duo’s work, five tombstones were uncovered which had been hidden in the undergrowth. All of the names on the stones have now been recorded, and the graveyard’s condition has improved immensely.

in munster-express.ie by Kieran Foley

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Last Supper: What Wine Was Served at Jesus and the Apostles’ Final Meal?

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The Bible offers a pretty comprehensive answer to the question ‘WWJD?’: what would Jesus do? But, as Christians observe Easter and the Last Supper another question arises: what would jesus drink?

To answer this question, the location and timing of the final meal that Jesus had with his disciples before he was crucified is key. And three of four of the accounts of Jesus’ life in the Bible – known as the Gospels – suggest that it took place on the last Thursday celebration of Passover in around AD 30,  Father Daniel Kendall, Professor of Theology and Scripture at the University of San Francisco told wine app Vivino.

“Unlike John the Baptist, Jesus drank wine,” explains Father Kendall, adding: “From the descriptions it was most likely a Seder meal. Since it was and is the most important of Jewish feasts, wine would have been part of the festivities.”

While grape varieties may not have been named and identified as they are now, wine had been made in this part of the Middle East since around 4000 BC.

Archaeological evidence suggests that around the time of the last supper, rich, concentrated wines were popular, says Dr Patrick McGovern, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.

In Judah more specifically – near Jerusalem where the Last Supper is said to have taken place – archaeologists have found a jar inscribed with: “wine made from black raisins”. This means that winemakers may have used grapes dried on the vine or in the sun on mats to create sweet, thick drinks. At sites nearby in the region, jars labelled “smoked wine” and “very dark wine” have also been found.

While it was common to water down wine at the time, there was a taste in Jerusalem for rich, concentrated wine, according to Dr McGovern.

Spices and fruits – including pomegranates, mandrakes, saffron and cinnamon – were used to flavour such wines, and tree resin were added to help preserve them. So, the wine drank at the Last Supper, then, might resemble the mulled wine some of us drink at Christmas.

Today, comparable bottles would include Amarone, which is made in Northern Italy with grapes dried on straw mats.

While it’s unclear exactly which wine Jesus drank at the last supper, Dr McGovern jokes: “If someone can find me the Holy Grail and send it to my lab, we could analyse it and tell you.”

in The Independent

The historical reality of the Templars of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’

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The planning was meticulous. Signed and sealed, laden with accusation and instruction, the letters were sent by the king to local authorities throughout his realm. They were to act exactly one month later, simultaneously and at the crack of dawn — on a Friday the 13th, as it happened. The targets were unaware of what lay in store, their leader even spending time with the king and seeming to enjoy his favor. The hour came, and armed men launched their surprise, summarily carrying off hundreds to the king’s dungeons, and many ultimately to their deaths. It was a performance reminiscent of a Stalinist purge or Hitler’s Night of the Long Knives.

The year was 1307, and the month was October. The king was Philip IV of France. And his victims were all members of the order of “the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Jerusalem,” better known as the Knights Templar — or simply the Templars. Over a period of two centuries, this charitable and military order of Crusaders had grown in power and wealth. At a stroke, and with the acquiescence of a weakened pope, Philip destroyed the order, imprisoning its leaders and burning many at the stake. “God will avenge our death,” said James of Molay, the last Grand Master, as he faced the flames on an island in the Seine.

And, in a way, God has. The Templars live on in popular culture — from the video game “Assassin’s Creed” to Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” Philip IV does not.

Dan Jones, the author of well-regarded histories of the Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses, obviously gives no credence to the conspiratorial fantasies that have been spun around the Templars over the years. No, they do not guard the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail, and never did. No, a surviving remnant does not protect the identities of the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdelene. No, the order does not secretly run the world — that’s the Trilateral Commission or maybe Skull and Bones. In “The Templars,” Jones relegates this curious afterlife to an epilogue. His aim is to present a gripping historical narrative, and in this he succeeds.

The raw material is rich. Founded by a French knight in 1119, after the successful First Crusade, the Templars began with a mission to protect throngs of pilgrims now traveling to the Holy Land. The members of the order wore white robes with a distinctive red cross, embraced personal poverty and lived according to a regime codified by the great Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. A papal charter was followed by a papal decree granting the Templars an exemption from taxes and local laws, effectively creating a transnational entity whose members could go anywhere. As Jones describes it, the order comes across as a combination of Blackwater, Goldman Sachs, Kroll International, FedEx, Fort Knox, Bechtel and, well, the Red Cross.

The financial acumen of the Templars was considerable. In the post-“Da Vinci Code” era, visitors to London often make their way to the Temple Church, between Fleet Street and the Thames, built in the mid-12th century. The circular nave — typical of Templar churches — is the oldest part of the structure and was used as a repository by English nobles and by the Crown itself. “By the 1240s,” Jones writes, “the order was providing diverse financial services to some of the richest and most powerful figures across Christendom.” The Templars “guaranteed debts, ransomed hostages and prisoners of war on credit, and could arrange very large loans — such as the one made in 1240 to Baldwin II, the emperor of Constantinople, and secured by his very own fragment of the True Cross.”

The order’s military record was mixed. In 1187, an army of Templars and others, under King Guy of Jerusalem, was surrounded and slaughtered by the sultan Saladin in his successful campaign to restore Palestine to the Muslim fold. Saladin had played his hand skillfully: stopping up wells even as he enticed the Christians farther into the searing flats; pausing long enough to allow dehydration to take its toll; then moving in for the kill. Some 200 Templars were captured, and Saladin beheaded them all.

That was an unhappy episode, but the Templars had another century of influential life in front of them, until that Friday the 13th in 1307. Philip IV was pious, paranoid, unscrupulous and mercurial — and deeply in debt to the Templars. It was all too easy to manufacture charges of heresy, blasphemy and sexual depravity: urinating on the cross, having sex on the altar — the usual allegations. The power and secretiveness of the Templars only fueled the charges. The decisive blow was struck in France, but within a few years the Templars were extinct throughout Christendom, except in the popular imagination.

“The themes of the Templar story resonate powerfully today,” Jones observes. He rightly does not pontificate about this and draws no specious parallels, but the reader can’t help recognizing familiar territory. There is the preoccupation in the West with what we now call the Middle East. Religions collide and atrocities abound. Cries of “Allahu akhbar” pierce the din of battle. The power of states is threatened, or seen to be threatened, by unaccountable forces with global tentacles. Information is unreliable and easily manipulated, allowing conspiracy theories to take root and spread.

Nothing is left of the Templars except words on parchment and ruins in stone. An older crusading order with certain similarities, the Knights Hospitaller, does still exist, after a fashion — its genetic progeny are the Knights of Malta. They have a palatial headquarters on the Aventine in Rome. They have a papal charter and enjoy quasi-sovereign status. They can issue their own passports. They maintain diplomatic relations with a hundred countries. And, like the Templars, they do not rule the world.

By Cullen Murphy in The Washington Post

1,300-year-old Anglo-Saxon cross presented to Cambridge museum

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A beautiful gold and garnet cross, found on the breast of a teenage girl buried lying on her own bed about 1,300 years ago, has been presented to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.

The girl’s grave was found in 2011 by University of Cambridge archaeologists only a few miles from the museum, on land at Trumpington being developed for housing. The bed on which she lay – probably her own – had rotted into the soil centuries ago leaving only the iron supports, but the cross stitched onto the dress which became her shroud was still gleaming.

Both bed burials and Anglo-Saxon jewellery of such regal quality are exceptionally rare finds. A handful of such burials from the late 7th century have been discovered, all believed to be of women, but only one other had a cross.

The cross suggests that she was an early Christian convert, but she was buried between 650 and 680 AD in the pagan style with grave goods which were probably also treasured possessions, including gold and garnet pins, an iron knife, glass beads and a chain which probably hung from her belt. She was found among a group of burials, possibly of relatives, on a site with no previously known Anglo-Saxon connections.

Her bones suggest that she was about 16, and there was no obvious cause of death. She would certainly have been from the Anglo-Saxon elite. Gold and garnet jewellery of such quality was once associated with the women of a royal family in Kent, but pieces are now turning up along the east coast of England. A beautiful brooch was recently reported, found by a student metal detectorist in Norfolk.

The cross is thought to be worth more than £80,000, but has been presented to the museum by the landowners, Grosvenor.

Jody Joy, senior curator at the museum, described it as “a beautiful, mysterious artefact”, which would allow the museum to tell the story of the coming of Christianity to the region.

“The Trumpington Cross and other materials recovered from the dig are of international quality and significance – but with the strongest connections to Cambridge and the surrounding settlements.”

The cross and the girl’s other possessions are being put on temporary display at the museum while a permanent case is being commissioned.

in theguardian.com

Uncovering Templar church ruins with links back to the sixth century still hidden beneath the grounds at Glasgow Airport

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This historic gem dating as far back as the sixth century is attracting lots of interest – and it’s in the unlikeliest of places.

Fly in to Glasgow Airport and you’re likely to see the bright lights of the city to the east, the runway below – certainly a glimpse of the River Clyde winding its way through the city.

What you won’t notice as readily is a piece of history dating back to the sixth century – and the community digging deep to learn more about it. 

On a grassy patch of Glasgow Airport, right below the flight path, lies the ruins of the old All Hallows, a Templar church replaced by nearby Inchinnan Parish Church in the 1960s.

It’s now the site of an archaeological investigation, led by Inchinnan Historical Interest Group and with help from local schoolchildren.

The site is believed to be the burial place of St Conval, an early Christian saint who is said to have floated over from Ireland on a stone (more on that later) – and the earliest settlement dates back to 597 AD.

The first stone-built church, St Conval’s, dates to about 1100 – some 20 years before Glasgow Cathedral – on land then gifted by David I to the Knights Templar.

The medieval building was deemed dangerous in 1828 and replaced with a Gothic-style church, which was built around in the late 19th century to form a third church building, dedicated as All Hallows.

The foundation stone of the replacement church, in Inchinnan, was laid on November 19, 1966, with the old site making way for Glasgow Airport – although much of the old All Hallows was moved, including stunning stained glass windows, the organ and the pulpit.

The All Hallows site remained overgrown until early 2017, when Inchinnan Historical Interest Group gained help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland and others – including a £4,500 grant from Glasgow Airport’s Flightpath Fund.

Bill McCallum, of Inchinnan Historical Interest Group, told Glasgow Live: “We wanted to research the former site, to see if there was any evidence left of the previous buildings and, if so, what? We also knew from old maps that there were some houses around about, so we set out to find any evidence of habitation around the church in earlier days.

“We were fortunate enough to find a variety of things. Coming upon the 1904 church wasn’t a problem, but getting below that was a little difficult – but we got through and found evidence of the church demolishes in 1828.

“We’ve found a lot of stained glassed thought to be from the middle ages and they’re currently being examined by a specialist. We also found some rubble which we think is the earlier church but have not yet been able to prove that.

“it was important to use to involve the community too, and a number of local schools participated in the project.

“I think it gives people a better understanding of where they came from, from a linear point of view – but it also gives them a better appreciation for the fact that Inchinnan has been a very important area of Scotland for many, many years.”

While the archaeological dig uncovered lots of finds at the site, there was a surprise at the current church too – one which could help put the place on the tourist map and link it to another important place within the city boundary.

PhD student Megan Kasten, an expert on the Govan Stones, was asked to take a look at Inchinnan’s historic stones and unveiled her findings this month.

Using digital photography techniques on the ancient stones, Megan has revealed that one – thought to be medieval in date – was originally carved much earlier, and possibly commemorated an important person in the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

The discovery means that Inchinnan has four large carved stones characteristic of the same group of sculpture known as the ‘Govan School’ of carving.

Megan said: “This new addition is really exciting – we have few historical records for this time period, so each new discovery increases our understanding of the connections between important medieval sites like Inchinnan and Govan.”

Dr Sally Foster, lecturer in heritage and conservation at the University of Stirling and chair of the National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland, added: “The discovery of a previously unrecognised example of the ‘Govan School’ of early medieval sculpture is a wonderful example of the untapped potential of Scotland’s carved stone resource.”

Work to find out more about the mysterious Inchinnan stones is ongoing, but the archaeological dig at All Hallows has stopped – for now.

The Historical Group hope to continue their work soon, if funding is available, and dig even deeper into the history of such an important site, right under the modern flight path many of us know so well.

Doctor Heather James, lead archaeologist from Calluna Archaeology, added: “It has been great seeing the community and professionals working together to discover so much more about our fascinating heritage throughout this project.”

in glasgowlive.co.uk by Gillian Loney

WANT TO ‘GET SWOLE’? TRY THE TEMPLAR KNIGHT WORKOUT, SUGGESTS KNIGHTFALL STAR TOM CULLEN

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If you’re looking to get fit, Tom Cullen, star of History’s Knightfall, has a suggestion for you: wear chain mail.

The actor stars as Landry, leader of the Knights Templar, in the newest scripted drama from the network home of Vikings — which meant wearing 50 pounds of armor nearly daily for the better part of a year.

“I didn’t want to weigh the costume early on, because otherwise it would just become a thing in my head. I have weighed it since and it has become a thing in my head,” Cullen, who played Lord Gillingham in Downton Abbey, told Rotten Tomatoes. “The costume weighed 50 pounds, which is a lot to be carrying for 14, 15 hours a day when you’re fighting and riding horses. My body changed shape. I went from fit and kind of slender to muscular and big, just from the fact that I was carrying this amount of weight, this heavy costume.

“I couldn’t even get on a horse when I first started,” he confessed. “I had to have a stepladder because I didn’t have the power in my legs to get over the horse. But by the end of the shoot, I was leaping and running and jumping on horses. It was intense.”

So if you want to “get swole,” try the Chain Mail Workout!

“It’s where you wear 50 pounds of chain mail for seven months, every day, 15 hours a day,” Cullen said. “That’s all you have to do. And you’ll end up [muscular]. I’ve had to go to my wardrobe and buy all new trousers because my ass is so big. Honestly, if you want an ass like Kim Kardashian, become a knight.”

Knightfall takes place in the 1300s and follows the Knights Templar as they hunt to recover the Holy Grail in the final days of their reign, ahead of their eventual downfall. The series was shot in Eastern Europe on a Prague backlot — “they built medieval Paris, they built a temple, a palace, streets, a market, a moat, castle walls, a church, shops, alleyways, a pub — it was extraordinary,” Cullen said. The show tackles the later days of the Knights Templar’s reign of power.

“They were such a fascinating, clandestine sect,” Cullen said. “That the myriad of lies and layers that they bathed themselves in — it’s very difficult to unpack all of that. It was fascinating to learn about them. It was a real educational process for me.”

While, like most people, Cullen had a working knowledge of the group, he learned a lot while simply researching for his role.

“One of the things that really stuck with me was that they invented to first bank,” he said. “They created the banking system, and they created the first checks. They became the wealthiest fighting force in the world. And they answered to no country, no king, no queen. They only answered to God and to the Pope. No borders. You could cash your money in France, and you could take it out in Jerusalem. They were kind of untouchable. Fascinating guys. The thing that really surprised me was the level of their power. You learn about how they were in the battlefield. They were extraordinary. They would never leave. Even if they were losing, they would never turn their back and run. They would basically only surrender when the last man had been killed. That level of bravery and intelligence is an extraordinary combination, I think.”

Cullen’s character, Landry, was taken in by the Knights Templar as a 10-year-old orphan.

“All he’s known is war, fighting, and God. When we first see him in episode 1, he’s a very brash young maverick knight who ultimately loses the Holy Grail and loses Acre, the last stronghold in the Holy Land, which is the one thing that he understands himself through. The series is set 15 years after that event, and we find him questioning everything about himself. He’s questioning his faith and his own identity. He’s a very contradictory, very complex character. He is lying to his brothers. He’s having an affair with a woman. But he is immensely loyal. He is maybe the most fearless, brave knight. Yet he is starting to discover his own humanity and his mortality. He is a very pious man and is still a very faithful man, yet he is starting to discover who he is outside of his brotherhood.”

Yes, that’s right — there’s still plenty of sex on this show about religious monks, and Landry’s dedication to the Knights Templar only wavers when his chastity vow is involved.

“He’s very faithful to her,” Cullen said. “He’s a one-woman kind of guy.”

Except he’s supposed to be a no-woman kind of guy.

Added Cullen, “He’s a very complex guy, which is the kind of guy I’m interested in watching.”

The season will include major developments about Landry’s love — in the first episode, even — but his relationship will take a back seat to his main quest: to recover the Holy Grail.

“Landry goes on a pathological hunt to try and find the Grail, because I think that he entwines a lot of his own identity into that piece of pottery,” Cullen said. “I think that he hopes to find it not only to garner enough power to go back to the Holy Land, which is what he thinks that he should be doing, but also to return himself back to who he was — search for his identity before he became this very complex guy. What’s great is that on the way, we see his life fall apart, and as he discovers more about himself, he discovers more about the people around him and the lies that are entwined around his whole life and his whole existence.”

in rottentomatoes.com by Jean Bentley

Excavations expose long-lost palace at mythical birthplace of King Arthur

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A DARK Age palace has been discovered, strengthening the likelihood that the legend of King Arthur may be based on a grain of truth.

A DARK Age palace has been uncovered on Cornwall’s windswept coast, strengthening the likelihood that the legend of King Arthur may be based on a grain of truth.

Myth has it that King Arthur will return at the hour of Britain’s greatest need. It could certainly do with some help right now.

Whether or not a new archaeological dig at his supposed birthplace of Tintagel Castle will prompt such a second coming is another matter.

But it may already be adding to the evidence that the myth surrounding the warrior king who, with the knights of his roundtable, struggled to hold back a “Dark Age” from enveloping Britain.

The Dark Age has long since proven to have been not so dark. But the scant records from the time have made pinning down one historical character that best fits the outline of the tale near impossible.

Now, archaeologists have returned to Arthur’s traditional birthplace of Tintagel for the first time since the 1990s. They’ve just completed their first dig in a new five-year excavation.

Last month they sank four trenches into previously unexcavated areas of the ancient island settlement.

What they found may be the remains of a 1500-year-old palace.

BIRTHPLACE OF A LEGEND

Like many prominent British landmarks, Tintagel has long been associated with Arthurian legend.

Like all the others, the evidence has been largely limited to hearsay.

The ruined castle that dominates the Tintagel landscape is believed to be from the Medieval 13th century. This would make it some 700 years younger than the Arthurian tales.

But it’s long been thought that the castle may have itself been built upon the ruins of an older structure.

But it was the discovery of a stone engraved with a name linked to Arthur’s in 1998 that reinvigorated interest in the windswept ruins on Cornwall’s coast.

Archaeologists believe it to have been a foundation/dedication stone dating from the 6th century. It is engraved with the name Artognou.

It’s these ruins that may have been linked to the Arthur of legend.

The tales tell of the seduction — some say by magical means — of the beautiful wife of a local lord by the then King of Britain. The illicit act conceived Arthur.

Mythology goes on to say the young boy was raised as a squire — a knight’s assistant — until fate took its hand and placed the rightful king on his throne.

The first written record of the mystic king comes from a monk named Gildas in the sixth century.

But it was a time where books were scarce and the most common form of transmitting history — and telling tales — was through memorised songs and poetry.

It took two several more centuries before a more detailed account of King Arthur and his actions would be recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1138AD.

Unwinding his tangle of myth, legend and history has been a challenge for authors and historians ever since.

At the time of Monmouth’s writing, historians believe Tintagel would likely have been little more than a windswept pile of rubble.

So the notion of it being a powerful palace would have had to have been handed down verbally through the generations.

Just like the tale of Arthur himself.

SCRATCHING THE SURFACE

The archaeologists were guided in their efforts by geophysical surveys of the rocky outcrop’s terraces earlier this year.

Among the ultrasound and radar echoes were outlines of what could be up to a dozen buried buildings, one-metre thick walls and winding paths.

The strategically positioned trenches, two on an upper east terrace and two to the south, have all provided a glimpse of the stonework foundations of long-lost buildings.

From the scattering of potsherds and glass, this places the site smack between 400 and 600AD — precisely the time Arthur is supposed to have led his war band against the invading hordes.

None of this proves Arthur existed.

But the new finds add substance to the idea that the site could have produced cultured but strong warriors as well as influential political figures.

It would have been a beacon of lost civilisation in a world of economic chaos and roving, marauding tribes.

Much of the 150 fragments of glass and pottery recovered had been imported from the far reaches of the then collapsing Roman Empire — indicating a place of both great wealth and trade importance.

One piece was the lip of a Turkish-Phocaean red-slip plate or bowl. It was a particularly fine and highly prized ceramic that would likely have held pride of place on the table of nobility.

Original excavation work in the 1930s led archaeologists to believe the cliffside landmark may have once been an Early Christian monastery.

Later work has steadily strengthened the idea that it may have been an important Dark Age fortress, held by the king of Dumnonia who filled the void in Cornwall left when the Romans abandoned Britain in 410AD.

in news.com.au