SCOTLAND - A chance discovery has led to the uncovering of what is being claimed as one of the most significant relics of Scotland's medieval history.
If correct, the pommel from the sword of a 13th-century Crusader is only the second recorded discovery of a Crusader's weapon in Scotland, and by far the best preserved.
Experts at the National Museums of Scotland have confirmed the item as a "particularly interesting find"; while one historian insists it gives new clues about Scotland's role in the Crusades.
Rosslyn Chapel, outside Edinburgh, has long been rumored to be the home of the treasure gathered by the Knights Templar, the Christian military orders that fought in the Crusades.
The historic find was made in January by George Burns, a metal detecting enthusiast, and was lying discarded in a soggy field in Selkirkshire.
He said: "I'd discovered a sword pommel before in the Blainslie area many years ago, so I knew what it was, but the near-perfect condition of what looked like solid bronze, the clarity of its design and its 18 distinct facets really intrigued me."
Mr. Burns, 62, has been metal detecting for the last 16 years. The pommel has the letters SION inscribed on it, which Mr. Burns recognized as referring to Jerusalem. He showed it to Selkirk historian and author Walter Elliot, who confirmed the significance of the find.
The historian was sure the weapon had seen use in the Holy Land.
Mr. Elliot said: "The etched designs are quite crude, but, apart from SION, clearly visible are the letters US REX JUDE, which is a fragment of IEUA NAZARENUS REX IUDEREM of Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.
"The pommels of Crusader's swords were customized and this inscription was quite common in the 13th-century because it was believed to give protection against violent death in battle."
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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