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Some History of Temple Old Kirk

 Temple OId Kirk and its origins

12th Century background to the Knights Templar

Officially founded around 1120 in France, the Order began as a group of Christian knights whose sacred duty had been to protect and support those who made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land once Jerusalem had been regained from the Muslims in 1099. Soon after their establishment, Baldwin II, the King of Jerusalem, granted the Order land on Temple Mount, from which they took their name. 

The Knights Templar saw themselves both as members of a religious order and as soldiers for Christ. They took the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and aimed to serve with bravery in battle as a soldier of Christendom rather than for any particular ruler. 

The first Grand Master of the Order, Hugh de Payens, journeyed throughout Western Europe, exhorting the princes, rulers and nobles of the Western kingdoms to support the new brotherhood in its aims. When he travelled to England, the English Chronicle states that: 

'...he was received by all good men, and they all gave presents to him; and in Scotland in like manner. And moreover they sent to Jerusalem great wealth in gold and silver. And he invited people out to Jerusalem; and there went along with him and after him so many people as more had never done before since the first expedition during the days of Pope Urban.'

A papal decree of 1139 exempted the Order from paying taxes and gave its members the right to pass freely through all borders. 


As well as protecting pilgrims during travel, the Order's operations came to include providing secure access to personal funds while pilgrims visited the

Holy Land, with the result that the Knights Templar 

became in effect the first international bankers of Europe.


Whereas the Knights had taken a vow of poverty, the Order itself soon became extremely rich and was able to lend money to many powerful heads of state.


In 1128, King David of Scotland granted a large tract of land adjacent to the South Esk to the Knights Templar. They chose the same site on which Temple Old Kirk stands, beside an accessible river crossing, to build their preceptory.


The place became known as Balantrodach - 'the Settlement of the Warriors' - and was established as the headquarters of the Order of the Knights Templar in Scotland. 

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