Mar 15, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

The Shroud of Turin is … a Medieval Tablecloth? Historian Offers Proof

The so-called ‘Shroud of Turin’ – a long linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man that may believe to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth – is one of the rare relics that has been subjected to direct scientific study. While most pigment testing, radiocarbon dating and analyses of fragments of the cloth conclude it is a fake – most likely made in the 13th or 14th centuries – that hasn’t stopped believers from questioning the data (the strands tested could have been from repairs to the original is one suggestion). That will likely happen to a new study by a historian who claims it is a tablecloth from England and the image is from a statue – not of Jesus – it was wrapped around. Let the accusations of sacrilege begin!

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Shroud of Turin (public domain)

“At the time of the Knights Templar exodus from France in 1307 it was the alabaster industry that led the way at Burton Abbey – and, as such, it is almost beyond doubt that, after the Templars brought their hoard to Burton, they would have created a statue in memory of the event.”

Yes, anthropologist and historian David Adkins -- who believes the Knights Templar brought their treasures, possibly the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, to Burton-on-Trent and they are buried under a manor – has linked the Shroud of Turin to Burton and the Knights of Templar in an interesting connection of dots. According to Staffordshire Live, Adkins claims the Knights brought their collection of relics to the Burton Abbey and then took advantage of the many local craftsmen using the rare deposits of alabaster and gypsum mined locally to make an appropriate statue.

“To the medieval mind there could only be one possible symbol of the fabled hoard and the Holy Grail - and that was the Fisher King.”

The Fisher King – that Arthurian fabled last guardian of the Holy Grail. Adkins proposes that the Fisher King statue symbolically stood guard over their hoard (and possibly the Grail itself) until 1350, when the current abbot rebuilt the abbey church, requiring the statues to be moved into storage.

“They would have been wrapped in cloth and linen to protect them and, no doubt, stored in the abbey’s vaults and cellars.”

You see where this is heading, don’t you? Adkins claims a long used tablecloth was wrapped around the Fisher King statue for fifteen years. During that time, the alabaster and gypsum reacted with the dampness and the cloth and left an imprint of the long-haired, bearded statue on it. The return of the statue to the abbey coincides to about the time when most writings about the shroud’s existence begin. This is where Adkins gets creative.

“No doubt one of the monks noticed a similarity between the features of the Fisher King impregnated onto the cloth and those of Jesus Christ and came up with a plan to present it as the shroud of Christ himself.”

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The Shroud of Turn (public domain)

He thinks they hid, or even destroyed, the Fisher King statue, enhanced the outline of the man/statue on the cloth with their own blood – around the head wounds from a crown of thorns and the side wound from a sword – and passed it off as the post-crucifixion burial shroud. However, Adkins sees clues that it was the Fisher King.

“The hand covering the groin not only clearly points to the Fisher King – it also proves that the imprinted image was not that of a real man. Even more telling is the fact that the fingers extend to cover the thigh of the Fisher King – again very visible on the shroud.”

The legend states the Fisher King had been stabbed in the groin (sometimes referred to as the ‘thigh’ for dignity) and the statue had him covering the wound … just like the shroud. The twisted feet of a wounded knight are reinterpreted as feet wounded by nails.

Has Adkins connected sufficient dots to convince you? To quiet skeptics, he proposes checking the shroud – currently housed at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin – for fish and vegetables … a sure sign the linen was a tablecloth. He also wants to search the grounds of Burton Abbey for the statue of the Fisher King and match it to the shroud.

Would that convince you?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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