Kilwinning Abbey: Home to the Knights Templar and birthplace of the Freemasons


Kilwinning Abbey in Scotland, Masonic HQ also Templars’ HQ.  Image: Wikimedia Commons

Freemasonry’s mysterious symbols and rituals were developed in secret in Kilwinning, nearly 200 years before the movement was officially founded.

Sun | Apr 25, 2012

by Michael Schofield –

Glasgow – HUNKY historian Ashley Cowie has been taking Scottish Sun readers on an Indiana Jones-style adventure all this week.

The TV star — whose worldwide hit telly show Legend Quest hit Britain this week on the satellite channel SyFy — has been unravelling the biggest Scottish mysteries of all time.

Today, in part four of our exclusive series, Ashley goes on a search of Biblical proportions . . .

LOOKING through my binoculars I scanned the countryside for clues to the location of one of the most sacred mountains mentioned in the Bible.

No, I wasn’t in Jerusalem — but the quaint Ayrshire town of Kilwinning.

Now before you think I should be searching for my lost marbles instead of lost treasures, I can explain…

The story begins at the end of the 12th century when the infamous Knights Templar, a highly-trained military order who fought in the Holy Land during the Crusades, returned to Europe.

With their military presence no longer required they remained powerful as bankers and money lenders and many of Europe’s dynasties were indebted to them.

To wipe out his debts to the Templars, King Phillip of France hatched a plot to destroy them.

Backed by the Pope, on the evening of Friday 13th of October, 1307, Templars were arrested all over France and charged with heresy. That earned Friday the 13th its place in superstition for being unlucky — it certainly was if you were being burned at the stake!

But when the Templars’ vaults in Paris were raided, they were found to be completely empty.

The order had been tipped off and moved their gold, silver, gems and sacred relics to a safe place.

Many Templars fled to Portugal and Spain but legend claims they shipped the bulk of their treasures to Scotland where they found safety with their kilted brother Knights led by Robert the Bruce.

But in his brilliant book Born in Blood, American historian John J. Robinson found evidence that the Knights Templar sought refuge with the monks of Kilwinning who lived in the Abbey.

By the late 13th century there were around 600 Templar properties throughout Scotland.

But by far the greatest concentration of them was in Ayrshire around Stevenson, Irvine and Kilwinning.

Kilwinning, with its domineering 12th century Abbey and tower, has a rich history with several valuable relics taken there for safe keeping.

Recently, historian Jamie Morton, from Ayrshire, presented new evidence that made Kilwinning a focus of Grail Seekers by claiming the legendary artefact used by Christ at The Last Supper is hidden in a chamber beneath Kilwinning.

While the old Mercat Cross in the Main Street is said to contain part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. But there are also clues that Kilwinning is the location of Heredom — the sacred Biblical mountain.

The meaning of the word Heredom is greatly argued upon in Masonic circles, while it also appears in the Bible as the name of a mystical holy mountain.

But it can also mean ‘New Temple’.

That’s why I believe Heredom may not actually be a mountain but a secret Knights Templar HQ.

In 1747 French naval officer Chevalier de Berage wrote about the origins of Freemasonry: “Their Metropolitan Lodge is situated on the Mountain of Heredom where the first Lodge was held in Europe.

“The General Council is still held there and it is the seal of the Sovereign Grand Master in office.

“This mountain is situated between the West and North of Scotland at 60 miles from Edinburgh.” Well, guess what? When I measured the distance between Edinburgh and Kilwinning on my ordnance survey map, the distance was EXACTLY 60 miles.

What’s more, not only was Kilwinning, home to Scottish Templars, but it was the womb of another shadowy secret society which has become the focus of many conspiracy theories around the world — the Freemasons.

Masonic records confirm that Kilwinning Lodge is known as Mother Lodge No 0.

This means Freemasonry’s mysterious symbols and rituals were developed in secret in Kilwinning, nearly 200 years before the movement was officially founded in London by Grand Lodge England in 1717. But this is only scratching the surface of Kilwinning’s mysteries. Another secretive movement within Freemasonry is called the Royal Order of Scotland.

Masonic traditions tell that King Robert the Bruce established the Chief Seat of the Royal Order of Scotland at Kilwinning, reserving the office of Grand Master to himself and his successors.

Entry is restricted to Freemasons and candidates must undergo two highly secretive rites of initiation named ‘Heredom of Kilwinning’ and ‘Knight Of The Rosy Cross’.

It has always intrigued me that for centuries the unsuspecting little town of Kilwinning was and is STILL the heart and brain of such a powerful secret society.

But having relentlessly searched the landscapes around the Ayrshire town there is no mountain which the legends could refer to. So it must relate to this secret Templars HQ. But if so, where is it? Well all over Europe and the Holy Land the Knights Templar built tunnel networks connecting their holy buildings with their castles and farms, and they are believed to have dug extensive tunnels beneath Kilwinning Abbey.

Locals talk of a tunnel leading from Kilwinning Abbey for about two miles which terminates at Eglington Castle near Irvine.

And there’s even a living eye witness. In 2009, Kilwinning pensioner, Tommy Lauchlan told how he was once shown a secret tunnel near the Abbey.

He said: “I was just a wee boy but there were tenement houses on the site of the Abbey and Mrs Longmuir’s kitchen kept a secret.

“Behind her dresser was a door and this led to a tunnel, I just had a look down, but her boys were convinced it led to Eglinton Castle.”

Having inspected the Abbey grounds, I recently walked the landscape following the tunnel’s alleged route.

I found several straight depressions running through fields which could indicate the presence of a subterranean tunnel created by the Templars.

I would call on the authorities to give me permission to perform a proper archaeological dig.

Maybe, lying inside these ancient passageways for the last 700 years are the lost Templar treasures, taken from vaults in Paris in 1307.

See Also:

Kilwinning Abbey

Oldest Masonic Lodge

One response to “Kilwinning Abbey: Home to the Knights Templar and birthplace of the Freemasons

  1. I have just read a very interesting article about the Knights Templars and their association with Kilwinning .I have a bit of information that may be of interest.In the mid 1940’s I used to spend all of my school holidays with an aunt who lived in Kilwinning. She lived in an old building at the bottom of the abbey green. It was an old building which supposedly housed monks in earlier days but had been converted into flats. It had 4 floors
    The ground floor was occupied by a Mrs.Ferguson (Lizzie) The 2nd floor had 2 flats ,one of which my aunt occupied with 2 or 3 families living above. To the rear of the building was a small farm with a byre for about 6 cows and a stable for 2 horses. Mrs Ferguson tended the animals along with about 20 or 30 hens. The building and farm were owned by a farmer named Wull Crawford nick named Pea Wull for some reason. When he visited he would arrive from his larger farm in his pony and trap presumably to collect his rent and keep an eye on his animals and property. On one of my holidays the floor in one of Mrs Ferguson’s rooms collapsed through dry rot. When it was investigated it was found that the floor had fallen into an underground tunnel. Everyone was interested and wanted to see down it. I wasn’t allowed down because of my age, however the word from the people who had gone into the tunnel was that there were various wine bottles and crockery strewn about the floor. The tunnel did not stretch very far due to either a collapsed roof or someone’s attempt to seal it. At that time it was suggested that the tunnel linked to the Abbey and even went to Eglinton House. Perhaps someone who reads this will remember the incident and could provide further information. The house (no.21Abbey Green)was eventually knocked down in the 1950’s.

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