Medieval Mystery at the crossroads

A Medieval Mystery At The Crossroads P.T.Houldcroft

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A Medieval Mystery At The Crossroads P.T. Houldcroft

NEW paperbacks with Knights Templar interest

Close to the crossroads of the ancient Icknield Way and Ermine Street, in the centre of the market town of Royston in Hertfordshire, is a man made cave. It was a secret place discovered in 1742. Seventeen feet in diameter and over twenty five feet high, the lower ten feet are covered with low reliefv carvings of the Saints Christopher, Katherine, Lawrence and George, a memorial to a man being burned at the stake and a symbolic grave for a death and rebirth ritual.

Some of the carvings are clearly heretical and there are numerous references to early Freemasonry. Royston Cave was not just a hole in the ground casually decorated, it was a carefully planned stage on which a ritual of initiation was carried out.

Book Review by Sara-Jane Goldingham

Houldcroft P.T, A Medieval Mystery At The Crossroads. Royston &District Local History Society 2008

Royston Cave was discovered in 1742 during work on the building above. Because of its location virtually at the crossroads of the Icknield Way and Ermine Street, in the town of Royston in Hertfordshire, it was clearly a place of importance to someone. Who that ‘someone’ was is the subject of the book, A Medieval Mystery at the Crossroads’. The author, P.T Houldcroft was a research scientist, and caretaker of the Cave, which is has Grade I listing, for seventeen years: so we can be assured that his assessment of the Cave, it’s structure, and the wall carvings have been minutely examined and recorded.
As an engineer, Houldcroft set about constructing possible interior features to see how they fitted the archaeology, and his conclusions are discussed in the book. He relies heavily on the work of Archaeologist and Historian Sylvia Beamon who wrote a detailed thesis on the cave in the 1970s and who believed that the figures carved into the walls related to the Knights Templar. The book sets out to prove this theory, and given that the origins of the carvings, and the reason for the cave being constructed are so far inconclusive, his proposals are highly plausible.
The book is in two sections, the first attempting to prove that the Cave carvings originated with the Templars, and the second is the theory that the Knights Templar continued their existence after the Order was dissolved, in Freemasonry. The first section is well defined and although other theories exist, Houldcroft’s presentation is convincing and well written.
Where the book leaves the academic world is in Houldcroft’s stretches of imagination. He links his own theories of the Templar connection with Freemasonry, the Ark of the Covenant, the Tarot and the Holy Grail. Again he uses the geometry of the carvings to compare with Masonic symbology and makes a strong case. Unfortunately he relies on some of the more populist authors’ viewpoints in parts which results in some of his theories being speculation. There are a few errors of accuracy such as Melrose Abbey being located in Northumberland, when it is in fact in the Borders of Scotland, which are disappointing when the reader is relying on his expertise to steer them into unknown waters. However, his knowledge of Freemasonry is unequivocal, and he makes a strong case for the Caves being of great importance to the once secretive fraternity. The interpretation of any kind of iconography of great age is difficult, no matter how experienced the researcher, and there is always the danger of making connections according to one’s own agenda, resulting in a kind of folklore. But given that even Academia are open to the possibility that the Caves were used firstly by the Knights Templar in post-dissolution secrecy, and almost certainly by an emerging Freemasonry, this book is a good interpretation of the imagery, and the links Houldcroft makes are highly plausible.
Overall, if a reader were looking for an accurate description of the Caves and a highly credible interpretation, this book is well worth a read.

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