Where Is The Holy Grail?

The Antioch Chalice

I found some very interesting articles today regarding the Holy Grail and its possible location.

Of course, no one knows for sure, but it is quite the question to ask, and academics are not without opinions, as we shall see. For my own fictional series based on the legends of King Arthur, I have decided to include the grail. And why wouldn’t I? As a legend, it is rife with possibilities, and people are always interested in this subject. So all of this is just fodder for the imagination.

The two articles are from The Independent online news magazine. Here they are with my comments:

The Big Question: What was the Holy Grail, and why our centuries-old fascination with it?

This article is fascinating because it is prompted by an archaeological exhibition at the Royal Academy in Britain that may include the actual Holy Grail. Here is a snippet from the article:

Because a new exhibition at the Royal Academy, which brings together hundreds of relics from more than 1,000 years of the Byzantine Empire, has stirred up renewed and fevered excitement over the idea that the Holy Grail is in town.

Curators spent five years bringing together a host of archaeological treasures including mosaics, jewelery, icons and manuscripts to create the first exhibition in Britain on Byzantine art in more than 50 years. But the item causing the most frenzied excitement is the Antioch Chalice, a sixth century silver cup on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art which…to grail aficionados…is one of the most credible contenders to be the Holy Grail itself.

Not that this “grail” was found in Britain, mind you, but rather in Antioch, much closer to its original source. Wikipedia says this about the chalice:

The silver gilt object originally identified as an early Christian chalice is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, It was apparently made at Antioch in the early 6th century and is of double-cup construction, with an outer shell of cast-metal open work enclosing a plain silver inner cup.

When it was first recovered in Antioch just before World War I, it was touted as the Holy Chalice, an identification the Metropolitan Museum characterizes as “ambitious”.

It is no longer identified as a chalice, having been identified by experts at Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, believed to be a hanging lamp, of a style of the 6th century[citation needed]. It appears that its support rings have been removed and the lamp reshaped with a base.

How’s that? They think it was originally a hanging lamp? These people have no imagination, and I don’t expect them to become novelists anytime soon! :)) All the better. Less competition!

Anyway, it rather interests me that the standard home for this chalice is New York, which means I might be able to see it sometime. In fact, it is possible I did see it in 2004 when I went through that museum (if it is the one I’m thinking of), but didn’t realize its significance.

Here’s the second article, rather contradictory of the first.

Quest for Arthur’s Holy Grail moves to Wales

This article is about the book The Keys to Avalon, by authors Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd, and it explains their theory that King Arthur was an insignificant Welshman, and that the Holy Grail is hidden in Wales somewhere.

The Keys To Avalon

Here is a quote from the article:

They say the differing versions of Arthur’s life can be traced to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th century translation of the original Welsh Arthurian text into Latin.

Both men have scoured the Welsh countryside and found what they believe to be the true site of Avalon. They say they have enough historical evidence to back up their claim.

They also argue that Arthur was buried in Wales, and not in Glastonbury, Somerset, as popularly believed.

Mr Blake, who is from Surrey but now lives in north Wales, said: “We are not sure we are 100 per cent right, but you never are… I used to be a standard-line man and accepted the original theories – after all, you are reading some of the greatest historians in the field. But their work questioned things, so we chased them up.”

Of course, other academics dispute all this, and I’m sure Glastonbury Abbey would as well. For my own books, I will not have Arthur buried at Glastonbury, and my chosen location will not be revealed until the end of the last book.

So now I ask you, my loyal blog readers, what do you think of all this Holy Grail controversy?

3 thoughts on “Where Is The Holy Grail?

  1. The tales of King Arthur have fascinated me since boyhood. And they still do. As a matter of fact my fiance and I were going over children’s names that we liked and I’m all for Lancelot (though she thinks that is crazy). What most captivates me about those legends (and I do believe they are based on fact and thus they are legend, not myth) what most captivates me is the chivalry rampant throughout the tales. But the quest for the Holy Grail stands out in my mind because it doesn’t focus on maidens in distress but rather a sacred object. Because the legend of the grail is likely full of myth I doubt anyone has found it. After all, isn’t the grail presumed to be the cup from which Christ drank the last supper? If that is so then I doubt there is any silver in its construction. Jewish culture in the time of Christ was under Roman rule; and Christ delivered his message via a simple life. But those are just some of my thoughts. (-:

  2. Scott,

    Thanks for the great feedback!

    I agree that it was probably not silver, although it is possible since the upper room was provided for the disciples, and not owned by any of them. Some scholars think it was owned by John Mark’s parents, and it is possible they were more wealthy.

    However, I do like the idea that it was simple and wooden, like “Indiana Jones and The Final Crusade” portrayed in an excellent way. Christ would have then been born and put in a wooden feeding trough, worked with wood as a young man, preached from a wooden boat, initiated the Lord’s Supper with a wooden vessel, and then died on a wooden cross! He was not a man of silver, but of wood.

    I must do more thinking about this, as I will have to describe it in my second book!

    I really think the King Arthur legends are wonderful for just the reason you pegged … that a theme of Christian truth and sacredness permeates them.

    Thanks again, Scott!

  3. Hey Scott, I forgot to say my thoughts on Lancelot … another version of his name is Lancelyn, the “lyn” meaning “from the lake” because in some of the legends he was the son of the lady of the lake.

    No matter what, Lance is a great short form and more likely what he’d be called. I’ve always liked that name, and my wife has a cousin with that name.

    But … names are tricky to pick out. Just today, my youngest daughter, now seven, said to me, “Papa, why don’t you just call Leighton ‘dude’. It’s a lot shorter.”

    Hmmmm… probably not!

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