Minelab Detexpert discovers Knights Templar relics
Chicago, IL (April 5, 2020) – A little over one year ago, Michael Gehringer and one of his friends sought routine permission to hunt for Civil War relics on a site near their homes in Memphis, Tennessee. Both planned to use their Minelab metal detectors and were hoping to find various bullets, buttons, bale seals and other assorted period treasures.
The recently widowed landowner originally declined the treasure hunters’ request, but eventually granted access to a 30-acre wooded parcel on one condition: that the two men search for the wedding ring her husband had lost before his passing.
Gehringer and his friend Lamarr were eager to help, and while the property owner wasn’t sure where the ring might be, the two men thought it made the most sense to begin their search between the house and barn. They invited the landowner to detect with them, and it wasn’t long before Lamarr had a signal which read like a possible ring. He asked their host to dig the target, and she joyfully brought up her late husband’s lost ring. She was thrilled and graciously offered to let the men hunt her entire 70-acre property.
It turned out to be a significant and rewarding permission.
Gehringer – a Minelab Detexpert – started detecting in 2014 at the age of 32. He purchased his first detector – a $40 machine – on Amazon. “I ended up digging up a bunch of bottle tops, pull tabs, and a full beer on a beach,” he recalls. “After that trip, I started hitting the parks and my inexpensive detector broke.” His wife bought him a new machine, but he soon wanted to upgrade to something nicer. He then bought a top-of-the-line detector from a well-known brand, but he had significant problems and ending up sending the machine back multiple times.
“While waiting for repairs, I borrowed a Minelab EQUINOX 800 from a friend,” says Gehringer. “It was amazing. I found $16 in clad, one gold ring, and two silver rings amongst the typical trash during my first hunt with it at the beach,” continues Gehringer, who returned home from the outing and wasted no time in calling a nearby Minelab dealer. In two days, his very own EQUINOX 800 arrived at his door. “I got my EQUINOX and haven’t looked back,” exclaims Gehringer, who ordered a Minelab Pro-Find 35 pinpointer from the same dealer a few days later.
Back on the 70-acre property, Gehringer, Lamarr, and Paul – another friend – began searching for Civil War relics. All three hunters were finding and digging the usual items until Paul uncovered a strange piece which none of the hunters could identify. After cleaning up the find at home, it was discovered to be a part of “keeper”, or the end piece of a chain belt. More research showed it to be similar to a piece of a distinct belt commonly worn by the Knights Templar – the storied Catholic military order dating back almost one thousand years. These soldiers were active during the time of the Crusades, but were suppressed and persecuted in Europe in the early 1300’s, and were forced into hiding. Some traveled to North America and brought their influence with them. While history suggests the group was fully disbanded some 700 years age, some evidence shows the group still exists in some form and is still active around the world today.
After realizing what they had found, Gehringer and his friends returned to the area to see if they could uncover more relics. They soon found a spot in a swampy area where more Templar items would come to light. Gehringer dug a short length of a sword belt chain, which included several squares of metal bearing the distinctive Maltese or Templar cross in each. They were fastened together by a small circle of metal in the corners. He had to wash the find off in a small puddle of water before he could recognize what he had. He continued to find more pieces of the chain before eventually discovering one of the keepers which connected to the end of the belt.
More digging and washing of finds in the muddy area brought forth two more keepers and several more short lengths of the chain. He now had three of the four keepers which would make up the ends of the chains. These keepers each showed a crown over a shield on their ornamental metal. All that was missing was the last keeper and the buckle, which fastened them to the other end of the belt. Gehringer was encouraged. Using his Minelab EQUINOX with Multi-IQ simultaneous frequency technology, he knew his machine would find any metal object in the ground.
A loud signal soon alerted him to another find. Gehringer dug a plug with his shovel and removed the dirt. The hole immediately filled with water, but his Pro-Find 35 pinpointer indicated the target was still in the bottom of the hole. Rolling up his sleeves, he continued to pull mud out of the hole with his hands. Finally, about 10 inches down, he felt something metal. He brought a heavy lump of mud to the surface, which was rectangular in shape.
The exciting moment is now documented in a YouTube video, where Gehringer can be seen physically shaking and breathing rapidly. “This is what I’ve been looking for! I knew it had to be here somewhere!” He dropped his detector and raced to the nearest water puddle with enough clear water to begin washing his find. As the details of the item emerged, the Templar cross became visible. The belt buckle had Latin words engraved upon it, translating to, “In this, you will conquer.” Sitting in the swamp, covered in mud, Gehringer stared at the buckle in disbelief.
After much research, Gehringer thinks the finds date back to sometime in the 1700’s. During a visit to the Franklin, Tennessee headquarters for the Masonic Templars, he was told, “There is nothing like your finds in our historical items going back to the early 1800’s.”
If the group of men had not discovered the lost ring in the yard, it’s unlikely that they would have received permission to hunt the area. The Knights Templar relics would still be buried in the muddy field where they were lost those many years ago. Several more visits to the area did not uncover the remaining keeper or any more pieces to the belt chain.
If you would like to see more of Gehringer in action with his Minelab EQUINOX detector, visit his YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/c/DamageControlDMG.
Story by Rich Creason.