Knights Templar cave reveals stunning religious carvings in bombshell discovery.
Scientists believe the etchings in the chalk walls of the ancient Royston Cave in Hertfordshire, depict a band of fighting Christian monks, who defended pilgrims to the Holy Land in 12th and 13th centuries.
The underground chamber was once used by the knights that fought in the Crusades – which has been made famous by the Dan Brown book The Da Vinci Code.
The book speculates that they may have found and hidden the Holy Grail somewhere in the UK.
The cave, which lies under a busy junction of a Roman Road, comprises of cylindrical lower and bell-shaped upper parts totalling 17ft (5.2m) wide and 25.5ft (7.8m) high.
The order of the Knights Templar was founded by Hugh de Payens, a French nobleman from the Champagne region, along with eight of his companions, in Jerusalem around 1119.
Their ornate images, found inside the ancient monument, were captured by photographer Keith Jones.
One image of the carvings show two figures close together near a damaged section – all that remains of a Templar symbol showing two knights riding a horse.
Other carvings show calvary scenes with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John The Baptist – as well as a group believed to show the Holy Family – but uncertainty surrounds the remaining figures.
The official website for the cave says that the large panel on the left of St. Christopher “represents the Holy Sepulchre having a damaged figure of Christ awaiting the resurrection above the large niche on the left”.
It continues: “Mary Magdalene, or an angel on the right-hand side sits on the stone rolled away from the entrance.
“The dove and the hand above may represent the Holy Spirit. The niche below probably held a lamp.
“The long row of figures below includes both men and women and although none can be identified those marked with crosses are possibly saints and those with hearts may be martyrs.