If you're an outdoor adventurer, you might want to spend your summer vacation this year searching for the lost ruins of the Knights Templar's citadel in Vermont. Yes, we used the words Knights Templar and Vermont in the same sentence.
A controversial new book, titled "Swords at Sunset: Last Stand of North America's Grail Knights" (published by Manor House, Ontario, Canada), recounts the story of a band of exploring Holy Grail knights in the wilds of northern Vermont and Canada in the 1570s.
Quebec authors Michael Bradley and Joelle Lauriol believe that knights of the Holy Grail under the guidance of Sir Henry Sinclair, left England to build small citadels in North America -in Ontario's Niagara region and along the shore of Lake Memphremagog in Vermont.
Bradley and Lauriol have broken the shackles of religious mythology and North American history with an original, intriguing-and some would say outrageous-viewpoint.
"Swords at Sunset" is the third and final book in Michael Bradley's non-fiction trilogy about religious Grail-believing refugees in Canada and Vermont. The books come in the wake of the popularity of "The Da Vinci Code" novel and movie.
The first book of the series, "Holy Grail Across the Atlantic" (published Hounslow Press) went through several printings and proved to be a Canadian bestseller with just under 20,000 copies sold in trade paperback. The second book, "Grail Knights of North America" (published by Dundurn Group) has so far sold somewhat less but is still in print.
"Swords" chronicles the ends of the Grail knights in Vermont and Canada.
According to principal author Bradley and co-author Lauriol, the two major inland Grail settlements-one in the Green Mountains on the Quebec-Vermont border and one on the Niagara Escarpment above the falls-perished in a conflict with the Iroquois Confederacy in the year 1571.
Bradley and Lauriol back up their rewrite of the region's history with photo of European artifacts they and others have discovered in the Green Mountains and Niagara Escarpment.
These artifacts, they claim, date from before the known European colonial period.
Quoting an obscure medieval document known as "The Zeno Narrative", thought to have been composed by Antonio Zena, an Italian navigator employed by English knight Sir Henry Sinclair, the authors present geographic evidence that a primitive woodland settlement Sinclair is said to have established was called "Estotiland".
Why did Sinclair cross the Atlantic Ocean to Canada and Vermont in the first place?
"The answer, I argued in my book 'Holy Grail Across the Atlantic'," said Bradley, "could most probably be found in his relationship to the mysterious, romantic and outlawed Order of the Knights Templar. This famous and infamous body of elite knights was formed in Jerusalem in A.D. 1118 for the stated purpose of guarding the Holy Grail."
Bradley said "I had to give readers some idea of what this so-called Holy Grail was really all about. Why had the grail always been in conflict with Judeo-Christianity and, for that matter with orthodox Islam? The answer I came to, after more than 20 years of research, is that the tradition of the Holy Grail is nothing less than the first expression of true and original Christianity.
What's fascinating and controversial is the evidence of pre-colonial Europeans and Grail-believing refugees and of that very early era actually settled in northern Vermont. In the book, the authors discuss a fantastic stone gargoyle head, dating to the 1500s, and the stone ruins of an ancient structure found in the Vermont woods.
Getting there: From Newport, Vt., follow Route 243 North to the Canadian border where it becomes 243 Nord. The ruins literally straddle the border between Vermont and Quebec along the shore of Lake Memphremagog east of Mansonville, Que. Ask the owner's permission to cross private property. Do not cross international boundaries without passing through official checkpoints.