Store Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

Did the Templars Hide the Ark of the Covenant? Unraveling the Cove-Jones Cipher

Did the Templars Hide the Ark of the Covenant? Unraveling the Cove-Jones Cipher

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On October 25th this year, the Vatican released a document that had remained in its secret archives for seven hundred years. It is the report of the official Church investigation into the activities of the Knights Templar in the early fourteenth century. In October 1306, these crusader knights were found guilty of idolatry, blasphemy, and heresy, and their order was dissolved. Some were burned at the stake, others imprisoned, and most were stripped of their assets. Astonishingly, this extraordinary document reveals how the Vatican enquiry found no evidence of wrongdoing. It was the Pope himself, Clement V, who directly intervened and declared the Templars heretics. The report appears to show that the pontiff was after their wealth, said to include priceless treasures once housed in the temple of Jerusalem and lost when the city was sacked in ancient times.

But despite the arrest and torture of leading Templars, and the wholesale seizure of their lands, nothing of this fabled hoard was ever found. Most historians doubt the existence of the Templar treasure. However, my research suggests that one of the ancient relics they are said to have possessed may have been hidden in central Britain.

Hallowed Relics

In the heart of England, close to Stratford-upon-Avon, famous as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is the village of Temple Herdewyke, named after the Templars who once resided there. After the Third Crusade in the late twelfth century, these Templars returned from the Holy Land to build a chapel to house certain holy relics they claimed to have found. Many crusaders came home with items purportedly associated with early Judaism and Christianity, and with characters and events in the Bible, but the Temple Herdewyke knights are said to have discovered the most famous biblical artifact of all: the Ark of the Covenant. At least, according to local legend!

Composite image of members of the Knights Templar

Composite image of members of the Knights Templar (Public Domain) and a treasure pile. (CC BY SA 2.0)

They certainly claimed to have found what appear to have been considered hallowed relics at the time. Contemporary records of land and property holdings reveal that in 1192 the chapel housed certain objets sacrés – “sacred objects” – which the Templars had acquired in the Holy Land, including a large golden chest. This is exactly what the Ark of the Covenant was said to be.

According to the Old Testament, it was a large golden box, made to contain the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, lost when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 587 BC.

Secret Messages

Although the Templars were rounded up in 1306, some evaded capture. Six hundred years later, a British historian suggested that they managed to survive in secret at Temple Herdewyke until 1350, when they were wiped out by the Black Death.

The Templar’s chapel at Temple Herdewyke, now converted into a house, with the Phoenix Beacon on the hill behind.

The Templar’s chapel at Temple Herdewyke, now converted into a house, with the Phoenix Beacon on the hill behind. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

Jacob Cove-Jones, who lived in the area, not only believed they possessed the lost Ark, he also claimed to have discovered its secret hiding place. Having fallen out with fellow scholars for ridiculing his work, Cove-Jones refused to reveal his findings.

Jacob Cove-Jones

Jacob Cove-Jones (Public Domain)

He intended to carry out an excavation of his own, but sadly it never transpired. In 1906 he contracted tuberculosis and decided to take his secret to the grave. Well, almost! Knowing he had only a short time to live, the eccentric historian left behind a bizarre epitaph. He designed a stained-glass window that he commissioned to be made and installed in a new church that was being built close to his home in the village of Langley. Astonishingly, on his deathbed he announced that the window contained a series of clues to lead to where he was sure the Ark was hidden.

Most dismissed him as a crank, while others who attempted to crack the code gave up without success. I personally remain to be convinced that this Victorian scholar really did know where the Ark was hidden or, for that matter, whether the Templars ever discovered the Ark at all. Nevertheless, Jacob Cove-Jones certainly seems to have believed it, and went to a great deal of trouble to leave his cryptic message. It was, I decided, likely that the window did hold clues to lead to something; if that was actually the lost Ark remains to be seen. It was certainly worth investigating this century-old Edwardian mystery.

Clues in the Epiphany Window

Completed in 1906, the year Cove Jones’s died, Langley chapel is one of the smallest churches in England, and the window in question is set into a side wall. Called the Epiphany Window, it depicts the three Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus on Epiphany, the twelfth night of Christmas between January 5 and 6.  Matthew’s Gospel relates how three mystics from the East followed a miraculous star that led them to Bethlehem where Christ was born. According to Christian tradition, the Wise Men ultimately found Jesus when a rooster uncharacteristically crowed at midnight on top of the building where the child slept. The window scene shows the Wise Men holding their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, praising the baby held in his mother’s arms, while above them is the crowing rooster and the wondrous star.

The Epiphany Window.

The Epiphany Window. (Photography ©by Graham Phillips)

Strangely, the stained-glass window did not depict the Ark. Why the Nativity, I wondered? The Wise Men were said to have found the baby Jesus by following a star. Might a star be Jacob Cove-Jones’s vital clue? Was the seeker being told to follow a star?

The Ark of the Covenant is indeed associated with stars: two of them, to be precise. The Bible describes the Ark as having figurines of two angels on its lid. They were said to depict the archangels Michael and Gabriel that, according to Hebrew tradition, were represented in the sky by the stars Benetnash and Mizar, the tail stars of what we now called the Big Dipper.

The stained-glass window did in fact appear to show two stars, one overlaid on the other, and right next to this design were the letters B and M, the very initials of these stars. If these celestial bodies were to somehow indicate the location of the hidden Ark, I needed to know both when and from where to observe them.

Close up of the Epiphany Window, showing the double star, the rooster, the phoenix, and the letters B and M. The red-brick arch can be seen directly below the star.

Close up of the Epiphany Window, showing the double star, the rooster, the phoenix, and the letters B and M. The red-brick arch can be seen directly below the star. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

Does the Pheonix Point the Way?

The specific day, I decided, was revealed by the event portrayed in the window: Epiphany, on the twelfth night of Christmas. And the precise time was revealed by the rooster next to the star. It is said to have crowed at midnight. The location, it seemed, was indicated by two pertinent images in the scene. Between the letters B and M was depicted the fire bird, the phoenix, rising from the flames, and on top of a hill overlooking Temple Herdewyke there is a peculiar round tower called the Phoenix Beacon.

The central image in the Epiphany Window and the Phoenix Beacon it appears to represent.

The central image in the Epiphany Window and the Phoenix Beacon it appears to represent. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

In fact, the central image in the stained-glass window bears a striking resemblance to the tower, with its distinctive conical roof and castellated walls. It is represented as a container held by one of the figures, and upon it was another depiction of the phoenix, and the Latin words, “come and adore.” I was certain that Cove-Jones intended his seeker to observe the stars at 12 p.m. on Epiphany night, from the position of the tower. At that exact time, the two stars are low in the sky and, when viewed from the Phoenix Beacon, are pointing almost directly downwards to the foot of a hill on the horizon, specifically to a little village called Chapel Green.

The Phoenix Beacon, showing the position of the Big Dipper at midnight on January 5, with the two tail stars, Benetnash and Mizar, pointing downwards.

The Phoenix Beacon, showing the position of the Big Dipper at midnight on January 5, with the two tail stars, Benetnash and Mizar, pointing downwards. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)


Chapel Green is named after a medieval chapel that once stood there, but all that remains today is a Victorian drinking fountain standing beside the road. Dating from Cove-Jones’s time, it is a red-brick, rectangular structure, inlaid with an arched niche. It closely resembles a red-brick arch depicted in the window scene, right below the star design.

The drinking fountain at Chapel Green.

The drinking fountain at Chapel Green. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

Convinced that that this was exactly where the clues in the Epiphany Window were intended to lead, I organized a geophysics survey of the area, but although we discovered evidence of the original chapel, nothing made of gold or resembling the Ark appeared to be there. Tragically, in 1949 the lane was widened and the ruins of the centuries-old chapel were destroyed. Perhaps the workmen involved had dug up whatever was there to be found. If it was the lost Ark, they kept it quiet.

At present, I am trying to discover who the workmen were, so I can trace their living relatives. Maybe – just maybe – someone in central England still knows the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant. The vessel famously described by Indiana Jones as “a radio for talking to God.”

A fuller account of this investigation can be found on Graham Phillips’ website:

And in his book The Templars and the Ark of the Covenant.


Top Image: The Ark of the Covenant, as described in the Bible. (Picture from the cover of The Templars and the Ark of the Covenant by Graham Phillips, published by Inner Traditions • Bear & Company)

By Graham Phillips


David Willey, 2007. “Vatican archive yields Templar secrets” [Online] Available at:

David Van Biema, 2007. “The Vatican and the Knights Templar” [Online] Available at:,8599,1674980,00.html

Peter Popham, 2007. “How the Vatican destroyed the Knights Templar” [Online] Available at:

Malcolm Moore, 2007. “Vatican paper set to clear Knights Templar” [Online] Available at:



Tsurugi's picture

Reading through the comments here confirms an assertion I once heard, "Bring up the Ark of the Covenant if you want to find out who the real interesting characters are."

I think you should be looking more closely at Temple Grafton Church for the resting place of Templar Treasure. It is where William Shakespeare was married. The current Church was rebuilt in 1875 and had the crypt completely filled in. The lead coffins were covered over as well according to the locals. My spirit led me to this Church one day for some reason, after visiting Shakespeare's birth & death places in Stratford. To my surprise I found it was the place he was married in. I feel the holy spirit indicated that something is located here. I has also just come down from the Roslyn Chapel. Yahweh hid the Ark for it to be re-discovered at an appropriate future time. Perhaps now is the time for the the Ark to re emerge, as we are in the 2012 to 2032, 20 year transition period to the Christ's 1000 year rule on Earth.

YHWH Allah's picture

Save the Ark being Injured by National Trust
of the United Kingdom. (SAINT of UK petition)

The seven Spirits of YHWH Allah located below the original Altar Stone pit No. 96 at Stonehenge are packed inside the brass Altar of Burnt Offering having 4 horns. YHWH Allah's 1st Spirit - gold Mercy seat, 2nd Spirit - gold Ark of the Testimony, 3rd Spirit - gold Table for the Shewbread, 4th Spirit - gold Candlestick, 5th Spirit - gold Ephod-Girdle, 6th Spirit - gold Breastplate, and 7th Spirit - gold Altar of Incense having 4 horns, together with Moses the Egyptian's skeleton and Torah scroll having 2 horns are inside YHWH Allah's said brass Altar of Burnt Offering. The seven Spirits of YHWH Allah are cemented in a Pozzolanic concrete block inside eastern Scroll Trench and are capped by Heel Stone, a 35 ton Sarsen type rock. The concrete of YHWH Allah once protecting them has weathered and is now crumbling.

National Trust, custodian of the land, and English Heritage, custodian of the stones, of Stonehenge World Heritage Site, are fully aware Heel Stone is causing irreparable damage to YHWH Allah's seven Spirits in breach of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. This Petition to UK Parliament to "Save the Ark being Injured by National Trust of the United Kingdom" is for UK Parliament to cause, or to force as the case may be, National Trust to exhume YHWH Allah's brass Altar of Burnt Offering containing such historic Relics from its shallow depth of 1.2m (4ft) below the Heel Stone base. Or to cause, or to force as the case may be, retraction of National Trust's claim(s) in being an historic conservation organisation. For more background link to Stonehenge WHS & UNESCO, ICOMOS, and ICOMOS UK.

(SAINT of UK petition) ← Sign

Be a SAINT today!

Mishkan 1.2m below Heel Stone
@ Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Washington's Testament, 21 January 1653,
Little Braxted, Essex County, England G.B.

On his deathbed Rev. Laurence Washington (1602-1653) ancestor of U.S. first President George Washington (1732-1799) who inherited from his father Sir Laurence Washington (1579-1643) ownership of Stonehenge in Great Britain said;

Embedded in the Ancient's Concrete mixture of 1 part Bluestone and 3 parts Limestone cement, four feet (4 ft, 1.2 m) below my Helestone in Wilts, is my brass Altar of Burnt Offering (5c-5c-3c) containing my Seven (7) gold Tabernacle relics:

My gold Mercy Seat (2.5c-1.5c), my gold Ark of the Testimony (2.5c-1.5c-1.5c), my gold Table for the Shewbread (2c-1c-1.5c), my gold Candlestick, my gold Ephod-Girdle, my gold Breastplate, and my gold Altar of Incense (1c-1c-2c), are there.

Elizabeth Washington, baptized at
Tring Parish, 17 August 1636
Herefordshire, England


In reply to Philip Mellon, All depends upon whether one accepts the Bible or any other 'religious' book literally. The serious researcher does not. The Bible contains many references to numbers for example which are not explained and more modern interpretations of that same Bible have so many alterations of text in pointless attempts to 'make the language easy to understand ' that much of the sense of more accurate earlier translations such as the King James is lost.
For example it is very commonly stated that the flood waters of the Deluge tale covered the whole Earth...and yet it is made plain in the early versions that the water rise was fifteen cubits only. This would give the flotation point of the Ark...were it a real vessel. In fact this tale was borrowed from India and an examination of the Indian texts in parallel with the use of astronomy programs reveal that the whole flood tale was allegory for what was seen in the heavens and in this case it was the loss of a pole star. I supply abundant evidence in Deluge From Genesis to Atlantis.
In fact there are two flood tales involved in Genesis and neither can be taken at face value. Where were the 40 days and nights of rain that were so torrential that they flooded the whole Earth for which modern science can find no evidence. In fact there is a reference to 40 days and those familiar with the writings of Hesiod will be familiar with it because it refers to the loss of view of the Pleiades for that period. In point of fact the date here is as described in Genesis regarding days after the years commencement but the year is 2300BC. The year commenced at that point at the first new moon after the winter solstice which meant that the 17th day of the second month was 20 days prior to the vernal equinox and the 40 days straddled the equinox.Noah's offspring were supposed to have been involved with the build up of the Middle East but at 2300BC for the flood commencement they were more than a little late.
In point of fact he story of Noah refers to the loss the pole star Tau Hercules in the 7100BC and then the flood which was for 3800 years completed at 3300BC allowing the Noah's descendants to assist in the build up in teh Middle East. The flood era was generally seen as a canonical 3600 which applied to the previous flood between the loss of Vega and the gain of Tau in Hercules to which Plato refers in the Atlantis narrative, lato was referring in his Atlantis tale not a location on Earth but to the constellation Hercules when he stated 'beyond the pillars of Hercules' for Atlantis. This gives an era to which his '9000 years ago' applied. Both Plato and the Biblical authors utilised the same concept.
For those who scorn these explanation due to the dating involved I suggest they spend a few years making in depth investigations into Indian developments. Circa 7000BC at Mergarh which today is in Pakistan, there emerged a group who had migrated from Sundaland to escape flooding. They were building brick houses with very accurately made bricks. There are literally 100s of thousands of these bricks there for anyone to measure and confirm my assessment. The unit measures found there were in use as recently as the medieval period in Europe where the same measures can be found on cathedrals etc. Much development in India stems from this era. These folk were quite proficient mathematicians and astronomers. Again, there is plentiful evidence in the book Measurements of the Gods. This book overturns a number of long held ideas regarding the abilities of our forebears...but unlike most it supplies firm check-able evidence.
I enjoy Biblical studies but I understand what I read and see things from a different perspective to those who accept what they read literally. Much was written as allegory but that methodology is not commonplace in the modern world and we have been led away from thinking in this manner. It all stems from inventing tales as an aid to memory long before writing was invented. Hence, this being the case, ancient material can often be seen in a completely different and much more revealing manner. Again, the results are often provable as such things as reference to droughts or very cold periods are often mentioned and these can be correlated with the result of modern climate research. This is more accurate then the conventional ideas regarding Biblical studies.I respectfully suggest that Phillip Mellon reads the two works mentioned above, he will be greatly surprised and will discover a much more enlightening view of these old narratives. Harry Sivertsen


Graham Phillips's picture

Graham Phillips

Graham Phillips is a British non-fiction author who has investigated historical mysteries for over three decades, and has appeared in many documentaries broadcast worldwide. His fifteen published books include investigations into the truth behind the legendary figures of King Arthur... Read More

Next article