The Rosslyn Debate

The debate about the design and purpose of Rosslyn continues. We have put forward evidence that has led us to conclude that Rosslyn is a deliberate copy of the last Jerusalem Temple and that is directly linked to modern Freemasonry. Several, senior, academics have expressed opinions that support various elements of this argument and a number of people who consider themselves to be ‘serious’ Masonic researchers have continued to refute our observations.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find any opponents who have a well reasoned counter-view. Most commentators who have rejected our findings have not dealt with the issues at all preferring to squeeze their eyes shut, put their fingers in their ears whilst repeating "isn’t, isn’t, isn’t".

So, let’s review the case for and against our analysis of Rosslyn.

The Case for a Rosslyn - Jerusalem Temple connection

Here is a summary of the information that caused us to conclude that Rosslyn was built as a spiritual reconstruction of the Jerusalem Temple that had been destroyed by Roman troops in 70 AD:

  1. The ground plan of Rosslyn is a one third scale model of the final Jerusalem temple with the two principal pillars corresponding to the famous pillars of Boaz and Jachin that stood in the porch way of the original temple.
  2. The west wall of Rosslyn is built on a different scale to the rest of the building and the ends of the wall are ragged and unfinished. The standard explanation is that the 15th century builders suddenly stopped work on what had origally been intended to be a great collegiate church. However, Dr Jack Miller, a geologist from Cambridge University has pointed that the west wall could not be part of any further building work. He has shown that the masonry is not tied into the main fabric of the building and any attempt to build onto it would result in a total collapse.
  3. The geologist also pointed out that the stone used is from the same geological strata as the Jerusalem temple and the blocks of stone were chiselled to look worn and damaged like a copy of a ruin.
  4. Three top-flight professors with specialist knowledge have stated that the design of the west wall is hightly ‘Herodian’ and therefore appears to have been created to look like Jerusalem at the time of Christ. One of them, James Charleworth (the then Albright Professor of Archaeology from Jerusalem), has pointed out that the designers of Rosslyn even went to the lengths of imitating ‘robbed stones’ so common in Jerusalem. These are stones that were carved for an original purpose and then taken from ruins to be used for a second purpose.
  5. There is only one inscription on the stonework of Rosslyn. This appears on a lintel in the roof near to the entrance to the cript. It is in medieval Latin and reads:
  6. Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are even stronger, but truth will conquer all.

    This line was the solution to a riddle that led directly to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple after the Jews were released from their Babylonian captivity. The words come from The Book of Esdras and were recorded by the 1st century AD historian, Josephus in Book 11 of ‘Antiquities of the Jews’. It would be a coincidence of the highest magnitude that the only inscription in Rosslyn is the sentence that led to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple, if Rosslyn was not also intended to be a reconstruction of the Holy Temple.

  7. The pillars inside Rosslyn have been laid out around a central design that represents a six pointed star known as the ‘Seal of Solomon’ or the ‘Star of David’. This design element centres on a huge boss in the ceiling which corresponds exactly with the spot in the original Jerusalem Temple where the Ark of the Covenant was placed.
  8. There is also strong circumstancial support for Rosslyn being a copy of the Jerusalem Temple in that the nine members of the original Knights Templar had strong connections with the St. Clair family and the area where Rosslyn was built. After completing nine years of excavating beneath the ruins of the Jerusalem Temple the Knights Templar journeyed to Scotland to build their first preceptory outside the Holy Land at a place called ‘Temple’ which is just a mile away from the site where Rosslyn was built by the St.Clair family three hundred years later.
  9. When a British Army expedition excavated beneath the Jerusalem temple in the 19th century they found tunnelling and artifacts left by the Knights Templar. The knowledge gained of the subterranean layout of the Jerusalen Temple by the Knights Templar explains how the St.Clair family could have designed the ground plan to the same layout.

The Rosslyn – Freemasonry connection

People have claimed connections between Rosslyn and Freemasonry for hundreds of years. 

Here is the evidence that suggests they are right:

1. The central design theme of Rosslyn is around the six pointed star known as the ‘Seal of Solomon’and the layout of pillars forms a device known in Freemasonry as a Triple Tau - three interlocked 'T' shapes. (The tau being the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet). According the the ritual of the Holy Royal Arch degree the Triple Tau signifies the following four things, which the ritual gives in Latin and then English:

Templum Hierosolyma'The Temple of Jerusalem'

Clavis ad Thesaurum'A key to a treasure'

Theca ubi res pretiosa deponitur'A place where a precious thing is concealed'

Res ipsa pretiosa'The precious thing itself'

The Seal of Solomon is explained in the Holy Royal Arch degree as follows:

Nil nisi clavis deest - 'Nothing is wanted but the key'

Si tatlia jungere possis sit tibi scire posse - 'If thou canst comprehend these things, thou knowest enough'

The ancient rituals of Freemasonry appear to hold the key to understand Rosslyn by describing the meaning of the layout. This indicates that something very precious was buried under Rosslyn – the new ‘Jerusalem Temple’.

2. There is a carving on the outside southwestern wall that appears to show a carving of a candidate for Freemasonry being initiated by someone dressed like a member of the Knights Templar. The candidate is young and unbearded with short hair and appears as follows:

He is kneeling.

There are two pillars; one to each side of him

He is wearing a blindfold

He has a noose around his neck

His feet are in the form of a square

In his left hand he is holding a book like object with a Cross engraved on it, which appears to be a Bible.

This fits very precisely with initiation ceremony used today by Freemasons. The candidate also happens to be facing east (as in Freemasonry) but we will ignore that one correspondence. Those people who simply do not wish to believe that Rosslyn is connected to modern Freemasonry can igore this carving and say its all coincidence, but this is where science takes over from mere opinion.

A statistical calculation can be used to evaluate the probability of coincidence. The technique attempts to prove a ‘null hypothesis’ - which means trying to demonstrate that there cannot be any link between the two subjects in question (this carving and the first degree ritual of modern Freemasonry).

Next a weighting is given to all of the factors involved and assumed, in every case, the highest possible probability against any connection. To give the highest possible benefit to the case against a connection we gave a 50-50 chance of coincidence to all of the features. This means that every other statue of a man will have a blindfold, one out of two statues will show someone kneeling between two pillars etc. In this way the null hypothesis is given the best possible chance of succeeding .

The result is conclusive. Even when the possibility of coincidence is given the highest possible rating, the calculation shows there is a 0.0078% chance that this carving at Rosslyn and the initiation degree of modern Freemasonry are unconnected. That is less than one chance in a thousand. The null hypothesis can be confidently rejected with 99.9% confidence and so does not stand.

By all normal standards of proof it is unsound and unscientific for anyone to argue that this statue is not connected to the first degree of Freemasonry – unless they have substantial counter-evidence.

3. The St.Clair family (who built Rosslyn on their lands) became hereditary Grand Master Masons of Scotland. When King James VI tried to make himself Grand Master at the beginning of the 17th century he was not allowed to do so because that was a role that belonged to the St.Clairs of Rosslyn.

4. The inscription in Rosslyn about kings, wine, women and truth is central to the Masonic degree known as the Knights of the red Cross of Babylon.

For an update see findings.