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


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:


Phillip Mellon, I will just use some of the same words, context and tone that you have used in your comment.

I see the usual pearly white holier than thou Christians inhibit this place. Like a month to a candle they go about with their holier than thou attitude, their righteous condemnation, their cursing and condemning others to hell , all those who have chosen not to believe in the Christian God.

Using miracles and the ‘written word’ (bible) to justify any of their actions as being blessed by their god with no understanding or acceptance of others beliefs.

Please if you believe in god and do believe in the BIBLE as the word of God, stay away and save your preaching, we don’t want them.

I see the usual atheist and naysayers still inhabit this place.Like a moth to a candle they go about with proscribed talking points to further their message of death.Any time phrases such as "fairytales" or "Myths" are used in context with a Biblical History story the writer is quickly identified as agenda-driven and unreliable for the truth.
Please,if you do not believe the Bible,go away and save your comments, we don't want them!

Pope Clement V and King Phillip IV moved against the Templars on October 13, 1307, not 1306. The Templars definitely survived and most other countries in Europe did not want to move against them, particularly England. In fact, there is evidence that some of them made it to North America and late in the evening, Templar ships were said to have left the French port of Le Havre prior to the move against them as little of their treasure was found on their property. Their property was seized by the Crown. It is also believed that many went to England and Scotland and they are thought to have aided Robert the Bruce in his victory over Edward II when a contingent of knights arrived to assist the Bruce's troops during the decisive battle.

To clear up any doubts concerning the physical Ark,simply contact the Israeli Govt. Portal online and ask the relic archive agents. Or fly to Israel and go to golgotha yourself !!!$2850.00 roundtrip ticket .

The ark of the Covenant is an important element of Jewish lore but in reality probably did not exist but was an invention of the Jewish scribes who put the books of the Old Testament together the majority of which were written not long before the Christian era with much being composed during the Babylonian exile. In fact the proportions of this Ark are replicated at Solomon’s Temple so as the Ark was placed within the temple we had a greater and a lesser Ark on Mount Moriah nestling together akin to Russian dolls! We find that both Ark and Temple have a 1:1.66666 proportion.
During the later period of Norman expansion in Britain we saw Chartres Cathedral being built in France and not so long afterwards Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Both of these structures emulate the Ark of the Covenant. In fact at Chartres the prime key to the dimensions of the building is the inscription over the North Door, also known as The Door of the Initiates, which states in Latin,

…Here things take their course…you are to work through the Ark…

Of course to understand this one must, of necessity have knowledge of the values in use at the building as of course applies also to the Temple and to Rosslyn Chapel and fundamentally to the Ark itself. The Ark utilises a cubit of 1.76 feet and hence its length was 2.5 x 1.5 of these cubits which results in 4.4 feet x 2.64 feet. When the ‘working through the Ark’ has been accomplished a dimension emerges that is seen as part of the Ark of the Covenant and this is confirmed within 0.3 of a millimetre of the unit measure that Charpentier derived from a combination of his own and other’s surveys. But Charpentier was unaware of the units in use and could not make the evaluation that connects to the Biblical writings, an omission that does not occur in the book noted below where a full and provable evaluation is found.
The origination and evaluation of ancient measures is seen in the book Measurements of the Gods while a full description of Solomon’s Temple is seen in the book Deluge:From Genesis to Atlantis. Both are free to read online or download at:-
There is a great deal involved regarding this tale of the Ark and indeed that of the earlier model, Noah’s Ark and in transpires that the Noah version is no more than a boat shaped geological oddity but most importantly its dimensions were copied rather precisely. There is no doubt here because the plan dimensions [albeit with the beam reduced by the golden section which is easily constructed geometrically] were copied and used in the Genesis description. The Chaldean version of the flood tale which was added to later versions of the Gilgamesh Epic gives the location of the boat shaped lump of rock which apart from the beam difference noted above is the same length as is given in Genesis. The same cubit value applies to this ark as well.
The proportion of 1: 1.666666 also occurs elsewhere; this fits the outline of the constellation Gemini which as the flood revolves around the loss of pole star is not surprising. Many of the myths in the religious works are allegory which, when evaluated tell of the movements of the skies. Pliny the Elder’s work Natural History contains the following statement.

From the time of Father Liber [Roman Bacchus or Greek Dionysus] to that of Alexander the Great, [356-323 BC, ascension in 336 BC] one hundred and fifty-three kings of India are reckoned, extending over a period of six thousand four hundred and fifty-one years and three months.
Here we have a date from the summer of 336 when Alexander ascended the throne. Effectively this can be seen as 335.5 BC to which we add the 6451.25 years mentioned by Pliny to arrive at a date of 6786.75 BC or the spring of 6787 BC, the vernal equinox. This date is 111 years prior to that derived from India of 6676BC for the commencement of the Saptarisi calendar and yet it equally could indicate the commencement of the Age of Cancer. Visually the space between the two relevant constellations, Cancer and Gemini is such that 111 years would be barely noticed as it is the sunrise in the constellation that denotes the Zodiac Age.
So we have Dionysus who in reality is virtually the same as the later Roman Bacchus coming into existence at the same celestial occasion as the Indians set their Saptarisi calendar. The Biblical flood story is derived from Indian sources with the boat element taken from the location in what is now Turkey and that is a tale of a celestial flood as is that from China. The Ark of the Covenant and Solomon’s Temple emulate the constellation Gemini as do Rosslyn Chapel and Chartres Cathedral as these are based in proportion upon the Ark of the Covenant. For enlightenment we have to look to the skies…and understanding the applied dimensions as these tell us a great deal.
I suggest that those who are interested in these Biblical myths read the relevant sections of the works mentioned above, or hopefully the books in their entirety as there is a great deal of information there…all free; it costs nothing but reveals the results of decades of investigation on the part of the principal author Harry Sivertsen.


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