A British newspaper, the Telegraph, reports today that archaeologists working on a tiny island off the coast of Madeira have recovered a 1st or 2nd century A.D. iron nail from what was once a Knights Templar stronghold. The story’s headline reads: “A Nail from Christ’s Crucifixion Found?”
I’d say the Telegraph editors are taking a few liberties here. Yes, the nail was reportedly found in a decorated box on the island, and yes, the Knights Templar served as a fighting unit in the Crusades during the 12th century, occupying Jerusalem for a time. But there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Roman soldiers employed this particular nail in the crucifixion of Christ. In medieval times, charlatans peddled a wide assortment of fake relics in the Holy Land: this could certainly be one of them.