Once used as a ceremonial spot for the followers of a secretive religious sect, these are the underground caves offering safe haven after leaders of the free world brutally dismantled the group’s power base.
The caves in Shropshire were once a place of pilgrimage and worship for followers of the Knights Templar, a feared fighting force during the Crusades who built an international power base on their reputation and spoils.
The untouched caverns date back to a time when the Knights were prominent before King Philip IV of France, fearful of their power and deeply in their debt, attempted to dismantle the renowned group.
Many were tortured into confessions and burnt at the stake in order to publicly discredit them, but after they were literally forced underground, caves such as those in Shropshire offered haven to members and followers.
The Caynton Caves lay untouched for years and it is still not known exactly when they were carved. Some believe it was by their knights 700 years ago while some think it was by their followers in the 17th century.
In recent times they have been used by numerous groups including druids and pagans wishing to find a safe place to worship, as the Templar’s followers had used it for centuries ago.
Although they were closed up five years ago after the landowners became sick of the constant requests and found the caves strewn with litter and new carvings, adding to the crosses etched in the walls from long ago.
Photographer Michael Scott, from Birmingham, 33, captured the eerie pictures of the inside for the first time since it was shut in 2012. He said: ‘I traipsed over a field to find it, but if you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it. It’s probably less than a metre underground, so it’s more into the field than under it.
‘Considering how long it’s been there it’s in amazing condition, it’s like an underground temple.’