SCOTLAND is a wonderful and unique place. Its majestic mountains and dramatic seascapes thrill the heart and capture the imagination.
No wacky theory is complete without mentioning the Templars.
Ditto Rosslyn Chapel.
Even the crucial document of Scottish nationhood, the Declaration of Arbroath draws on myth.However, the imaginations of some have attributed unique wonders to this land that those in the mainstream would shy away from.
For instance, did you know that Jesus Christ was Scottish? And Pontius Pilate? And King Arthur?
And, no, I am not referring to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, which has its denouement in Scotland.
We Scots are not a boastful race. Reticence is spoon-fed to Scottish bairns along with their morning porridge. Which makes our propensity to make outrageous claims for our country somewhat bewildering.
So let's take a look at some of the more fantastic suggestions. You have two choices: Take everything you read with a pinch of salt (on second thought, make it a barrel) or suspend disbelief and go with it.
(All these theories have been graded with a probability factor between one and ten. This is purely an invention of scotsman.com, and we welcome any comments from people who disagree with our rating.)
King Arthur was a Scot
King Arthur (if he existed and wasn’t a composite of every heroic early medieval Lord), traditionally hailed from Cornwall or Wales. Didn’t he? Well, perhaps not. It could be that England’s saviour, who lies sleeping ready to wake in times of need, was actually a Scot.
Decide for yourself, with a look at the evidence:
Placenames: From Edinburgh's Arthur’s Seat and Stirling's Round Table to Falkirk’s Arthur’s Oven, hills, wells, waterfalls and valleys are named after Arthur. This must surely point to his being a Scot?
Battles: Nennius, the 8th century historian, called Arthur the "Duke of Battles", and specifies 13 fights where he appeared. There is a body of evidence that suggests that these battles took place in the north. The only properly documented battle occurred in Celidon, a Scottish wood.
Supporting cast: Sir Lancelot may have been a Pictish warrior, the son of the King of the Lothians. Equally, Gareth and Gawain, Knights of the Round Table, could have been the sons of the Earl of Orkney. Perthshire has a number of connections to Guinevere, or Guanhamara, a Pictish Queen.
Language: In the early part of the first millennium after the birth of Christ (of which more later), Edinburgh and the borders spoke P-Celtic, like the Welsh, not Q-Celtic like the Celts in the north of Scotland. Some scholars believe that in the 8th and 9th century several P-Celtic tribes from the Scottish Lowlands and Strathclyde migrated to Wales taking their memories of Arthur with them.
Merlin: The Borders are rife with Merlin placenames and mythology. There is a historical reference which places Myrddin (Merlin) in a 6th century battle – Arderydd, or Arthuret near the Solway Firth in 573 AD. It is implied that Merlin "went mad" from losing family and friends so fled to the forest. He lived there for the rest of his life, only emerging to prophesise and advise Arthur.
3/10 - Well, gosh, it seems a bit circumstantial. Where's the body? We remain unconvinced on Arthur, bowing to the greater amount of stories in Welsh, but we concede there may be a chance that Merlin was a Scot.
The Stone of Destiny, aka Jacob's Pillow, is Scottish
Genesis, chapter 28, relates that Jacob rested his head on a stone and dreamt of the glory of God. When he woke he said "this stone, which I have set up as a sacred pillar shall be a house of God". This is the origin of Jacob's Pillow, or Jacob's Pillar.
There is a strong oral tradition in Irish that tells of the meeting between Moses and Gathelus, a Greek architect and husband of Scota, one of Pharaoh's daughters. Nennius (yes, him again…) writes of Gathelus's 42-year journey from Egypt to Ireland, bringing the stone with him. (A journey described in the Declaration of Arbroath.)
Later, when the Irish king Fergus travelled from Ireland to Argyll to help the Scots fight the Picts he took the stone with him, where it remained until it was snatched by Edward I. It remained in London until it was returned in 1996.
However, there is a persistent "rumour" that maintains the stone taken by Edward was not the right one, that Scots did not really try very hard to get it back and that the real stone of destiny, that rock-hard pillow of Jacob's, lies hidden somewhere in readiness for a time when it's needed.
2/10 - We agree that the Stone of Destiny was brought over from Ireland. We also accede to the greater knowledge of the Irish medieval historians and their tracing of the stone to Gathelus. Our sticking point is the part where Moses gives Jacob's Pillow to Gathelus. We need a bit more convincing on that one.
Scotland is the Lost City of Atlantis
According to Comyns Beaumont's 19th century book Britain, the Key to World History, the Lost Civilisation of Atlantis is not in the Mediterranean, but right here in Scotland. His theory is complex and detailed, marrying the Bible with oral histories from around the world.
He looked at Homer, Plato and Heroditus as well as analysing "Flood Myths" around the world and came to the conclusion that Noah's flood and the catastrophic flooding that sunk Atlantis were one and the same.
Furthermore, Beaumont challenged the accepted placing of Atlantis. He maintained that Scotland was "the original domicile of the sons of Adam, who were the Titans or giants of classic fame as well as being the Atlanteans of Plato."
His theory is incredibly detailed but the main reasons for his conclusions are:
There is no evidence of flooding in the Middle East.
Geologists have found a massive lake under the Sea of Caithness – Shetland – possibly the one-time lagoon Lake Triton.
In 584 BC land broke away from Norway causing a tsunami that submerged some of Scotland's east coast. This was, he claimed, the submerging of Atlantis.
The Caledonian forest was home to boars, lions, bears and great white oxen called aurochs. A forest and these beasts are mentioned by Heroditus.
Beaumont's theory depends not so much on land evidence (although he offers plenty), but on a radical re-interpretation of the placing of Biblical tribes. Via a vastly convoluted route he claims that the most ancient race of men, the Phoenicians or Chaldeans or the "bronze" or "red" Aryan men, lived near Mount Atlas (Ben Mhor). They came from Scotland and travelled east only after the "great Catastrophe". So, for instance, the Faroes (itself an Erse word Faragh meaning chieftain) ended up in Egypt as the Pharaohs.
2/10 - Beaumont gains two credibility points in recognition of the intricate research, inclusion of (possibly) verifiable land masses and overall for his stupendous turning around of known history, for example that far from outsiders populating Scotland after the big ice age, Scots (or Chaldeans, Phoenicians) actually left Scotland in the wake of the ice age/tsunami/disaster and populated the world. Awesome!
Jerusalem is actually Edinburgh
Old Comyns didn’t just stop at suggesting that Atlantis equalled Scotland, but by extension also went on to prove that Jerusalem was Edinburgh. How did he do this? Well he started off by taking as a given that Atlantis was Scotland, and for his supporting evidence claimed that the Palestinian Jerusalem simply did not conform to how the Bible describes it. Unlike Edinburgh, with its Mount of Olives (Arthur’s Seat), City of Zion (Edinburgh Castle) and port at Joppa.
Furthermore, he looked at a number of Roman texts written at the time of the Jewish revolt against the Romans that show commanders from York being dispatched to quell the Jews. Surely, asks Comyns, this is simply untenable if Jerusalem really were in Palestine? It makes sense, however, if Jerusalem was only up the road in Edinburgh.
He supports his theory by proposing that the Catrail Wall was not built by the Picts, but by the Romans to keep the Jews in Edinburgh. He further maintains that when the Jews revolted again, Hadrian gave orders to destroy them and their city completely, leaving no trace. Later, when Constantine needed to resurrect a "new Jerusalem" for his own political reasons, he chose to locate it in Palestine.
1/10 - We don’t know where to go with this. Having failed to accept the Atlantis theory we can’t easily embrace this one. And, yet, who amongst us hasn't driven through Joppa and wondered about its funny name?
Another twist to the tale of re-appraising Biblical history comes with a story out of Fortingall in Perthshire. There is a strong oral tradition that Pontius Pilate, the man who sat in judgement on Jesus Christ, was actually born in Scotland. Unlikely? Well, as they say in the adverts: "Here’s the science bit."
Back in 10 BC Caesar Augustus was busy sending envoys across the Roman Empire trying to promote his latest great idea, the Pax Romana. Having successfully engaged with the British, according to one ancient chronicle, "ane short tyme eftir, the samyn ambassiatouris came to Metallanus, king of the Scottissmen" bringing jewels as the carrot to tempt the Scots towards peace, and soldiers as their stick.
So that’s the "science", now here’s the legend.
Metallanus, who resided at Fortingall, took his time to decide whether to adopt the Roman Peace. The Roman troops occupied themselves consorting with local women, one of whom became pregnant and later gave birth to a son, Pontius Pilate.
And that’s not all. Archie McKerracher in his book Perthshire in History and Legend makes a case for Pontius Pilate returning to Fortingall to die. He places Metallanus’s son, Mansuteus, in Rome at the same time as Pilate was living there after the Crucifixion. Wouldn’t it follow, posits McKerracher, that when the two met, Pilate was persuaded to come home to Scotland? How else do you explain the ancient burial stone in Fortingall bearing the initials PP?
1/10 - Edzooks, what’s with all this oral history malarky, it strikes us as a bit thin. If we started a rumour today that Obi Wan Kenobi actually lived in Greenock, and told enough people about it, would that necessarily make it true? We don’t think so. We gave it one point in recognition that there are some facts mixed in there.
Jesus’s head, heart, blood, etc, are in Rosslyn Chapel
Unless you’ve slept through the furore surrounding the Da Vinci Code you must surely know the "mystery" surrounding Rosslyn Chapel. You ought to be familiar with that intrepid band of warrior knights, the Templars, and their productive digging underneath the Temple of Solomon. During their nine-year excavations of the temple their spade-work uncovered either:
The Holy Grail (complete with drops of Christ’s blood).
Documents which showed that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and she went on to carry their child/children.
Dirt (but this doesn’t make for a very good novel).
Templar lore says that when they were rounded up by that greedy old King Philip IV of France some escaped with their treasure/knowledge to excommunicated Scotland - and to Rosslyn Chapel to be precise.
It is easy to see why Rosslyn has such enduring appeal for Grail hunters. It is a veritable cornucopia of grail symbolism. The most intense grail symbol is the rose, and boy does Rosslyn have roses.
For a start, it may sit on one of the telluric ley lines that criss-cross Scotland known as the "Rose Line". There are roses on the Apprentice pillar, there are roses pointing to the underground vault, there are roses round the Princess pillar.
Code-crackers spend hours, days, weeks staring at the carvings inside the chapel trying to work out what it all means. And they have come up with the following conclusions:
The least bananas theory sees the remains of the "One True Cross" hidden in the vaults of Rosslyn.
Dr Keith Laidler in his 1998 book The Head of God claims that Jesus's head is hidden in the apprentice pillar.
Assorted grail-hunters have the Holy Grail hidden in the Apprentice pillar.
And then there's the bloodline, a theory favoured by Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, which holds that all the intricate stonework is leading inescapably to the conclusion that the secret of Mary Magdalene and Jesus’s children is hidden within the very structure of the chapel.
4/10 - We know that the evidence is half-baked, and we know that it seems unlikely, but …. scotsman.com is prepared to entertain the Gnostic Scrolls, and their positioning of Mary Magdalene at Jesus’s right hand, and maybe admit the conceivable possibility that she was married to Christ. And so we can squeeze out a tiny bit of sympathy to the idea that there is a bloodline and that the secret is encoded somewhere. We might be more willing to accept that the Templars brought something with them. And if it has to be anywhere, then why not this extraordinary and complex building?
Jesus holidayed in the Hebrides
Bible scholars have often asked: "What happened to Christ during his lost years?" Just where was he and what was he doing, because the Bible seems to have a big gap in its chronology? It has been suggested that he went to India where he is recorded as the Prophet Isa. And then there is the oral evidence that points to him visiting ... South Uist and the Isle of Skye. This is the theory put forward by Barry Dunford in his book The Holy Land of Scotland.
Henry Jenner, a keeper of manuscripts at the British Museum in London wrote in 1933 of a journey he took to the Hebrides. Jenner found it very curious that "there are a whole set of legends of the wanderings of the Holy Mother and Son in those Islands." He also came across an island off Skye known as the Isle of Isa – or the Island of Jesus. And as everyone knows, place names were given in response to real events.
On the surface it looks like a slim possibility, but perhaps if you put it in a much wider and older context it reveals itself as a possibility. There is a body of thought that believes Jesus's ancestors may have been of Celto-Hebraic origin, the early roots of which belonged in Caledonia. This theory rather intruigingly has Druidic thinking impacting on Christian practice. Central to this theory is the Island of Iona, which had been known as the Island of the Druids and was to find fame as a centre of Christian spiritualism.
If, then, the theory concludes, Jesus's forebears came from Scotland, isn’t it quite within the bounds of possibility that he returned to see where his great-great-great-great uncle was born?
0/10 - This whole theory seems as thin as extra-thin, thin crust pizza, that has been cooked very thin. It is hard to believe that the ancient Scots were busy sailing around the world sharing religion and genes when back home everything seems so, well, primitive. Wouldn’t Scotland have been a very different place if we were indeed being subject to such a wealth of world culture?
Jesus's children were born in Iona
So then, Mary Magdalene, "the close companion of Jesus", escaped Jerusalem after the Crucifixion and ended up with Joseph of Arimathea in Britain. From there Mary is rumoured to have wandered up to Scotland. (Perhaps retracing the steps that Jesus took in his "holiday"?).
To reach the conclusion that she had her child in Scotland, you need a great leap of faith (and not the sort of faith the Church would approve), because all of the evidence is based on the rich imagery in and around Scottish churches, some of which show Mary heavily pregnant. You also have to refer back to Rosslyn and embrace wholeheartedly the idea that it is a gigantic crossword puzzle leading to an explanation of the Davidic bloodline.
And why Iona? William Sharp wrote in his 19th century treatise The Isle of Dreams of an old prophecy that "Christ shall come again under Iona". This same prophesy suggests that Mary Magdalene would also be visiting the island, but as the "Bride of Christ".
3/10 - We are not convinced about the whole Sinclair Clan being the line of Christ. But we are strangely perturbed by the church artwork that shows pregnant angels and a pregnant Mary. Pause for thought we think?
Ancient Scots had Weapons of Mass Destruction
When Arthur C Clarke was interviewed by the Guardian in 2004 he was asked what he thought was the biggest mystery that he had encountered. He replied: "The oddest thing is these vitrified forts in Scotland. I just thought, how the hell? After all, lasers were not common in the Stone Age."
There are around 100 vitrified forts around the world, with over half in Scotland. They were built on strategic locations, and the stones were heated to such high temperatures that they fused together.
When Clarke’s team tried to recreate the vitrification process they concluded that the amount of heat needed to vitrify rocks was equivalent to an atomic bomb.
The ancient Indian epic, The Mahabharata, gives very precise details of "flying machines" that were used by the Indians thousands of years ago. They travelled great distances, and tellingly, these flying machines were said to possess incredibly powerful firearms.
The epic explains a hideous war that took place between the Indians and the Atlanteans, possessors of flying machines. They both used weapons of destruction, The Mahabharata notes: "[the weapon was] a single projectile charged with all the power of the universe. An iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death."
In other words, they had firearms with the power of an atomic bomb. Enough to vitrify stones. Is it possibly that the vitrified forts of Scotland are the remnants of some cataclysmic war between the Indians and the Atlanteans, a war that wiped out all traces except for the remains of the forts?
9/10 - That’s it, we’re converts! It all makes sense! We believe in the forts - if Arthur C Clarke says it's amazing, we believe it - so by extension we also buy Atlantis/Scotland. We believe in it all!