The original discovery of the cave came in 1742, but the cave has been inaccessible to the public until recently when a new shaft was dug leading to the chamber. The Knight Templar were warrior monks who hired themselves out as mercenaries in order to protect Christian pilgrims after the Muslims drove the Jews from the Holy Land. They are almost mystical in nature and have been the subject of a couple of movies, including the DaVinci Code and National Treasure. It is believed that they accumulated vast wealth and that their treasure was hidden but never found. Some also believe that they rescued The Holy Grail.
– Two figures close to a damaged section of wall believed to show a Templar symbol showing two knights riding a horse.
– Calvary scenes with John the Baptist and Mary, mother of Jesus.
– A group believed to be the Holy Family is shown in another scene.
– The cave also includes carvings of four saints:
1) St. Christopher, patron saint of travellers
2) St. Katherine, patron saint of weavers
3) St. Lawrence, who was martyred on a gridiron
4) Either St. Michael or St. George, patron saint of England, wielding a sword which some believe points to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ
– Experts believe that other carvings show: Mary Magdalene; rows of martyrs; Richard I (Lion Heart) and his Queen Berengaria; either King William of Scotland and King David.
The workmen found toeholds cut into the chalk to create steps and records state that a small boy was the first sent down to investigate the tight shaft.
The domed ceiling lay just a foot below the surface of the road.
It was complete and partially tiled back then but is now bricked and grilled.
A chimney or air vent was found in the cave which is now named the East Shaft.
Investigators found decaying bones and a skull alongside fragments of a drinking cup and a small piece of unmarked brass.
Early visitors entered the cave down ladders through its original ‘north entrance’ but a new entry point was built in 1790 by bricklayer Thomas Watson.
Mr Watson cut a 72 foot (22m) long tunnel between the Town House and the only place in the cave wall not covered with carvings.
The Cave was Grade One listed by English Heritage in 1964 and leased by Royston Town Council who installed the railings and lighting.