In one of our recent group outings we visited Royston Cave, which is a small man-made cave, located - as the name suggests - in Royston, a town in Hertfordshire. The cave is known for its intricate carvings and it likely dates back to the 14th century. No historical references to its existence have been found to date which greatly adds to the speculations about its original purpose.
The carvings in the cave are completely unique because they combine Christian, pagan, and mythical symbols and images. Some of the carvings depict scenes and figures from the bible, such as the Last Supper, St. Catherine and St. Christopher, while others show pagan symbols, such as a Sheela na gig and the Horned God. There are also carvings which have been interpreted as depicting scenes related to the history of the Knights Templar, for instance the execution of Jacques de Molay, their last Grand Master.
We were very lucky that our tour guide turned out to be none other than the current cave manager himself, Nicky Paton, and he was not only incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the place but also genuinely interested in discussion and a very even handed representation of all the possible interpretations of the site, ranging from wayside hermitage to Templar meeting place or initiation chamber, early Masonic lodge, private royal chapel, a site with Earth mysteries connections and everything in between.
He was even so kind to switch off the lights for us for a bit so we could get an idea what the place would look like in low lighting and we used the opportunity for a brief chant to test the (amazing) acoustics of the cave.
The cave is open to the public on weekends between April and September but private guided tours can be arranged at any time if you contact them via their website and I highly recommend that as the best way to see and enjoy this fascinating place!