Several months ago, in Damned Data, I was musing about the huge gulf that exists between academics and ordinary people when it comes to the mysterious “Head” that was supposed to have been worshipped by the Knights Templar. The academics spit blood and say the Head never existed, while ordinary people wonder how they can be so sure. I mentioned the inconvenient fact that a panel painting of a Head is on display in the church at Templecombe in Somerset, which was formerly a preceptory of the Templars. And according to Juliet Faith, in a book I’ve just read called The Knights Templar in Somerset, there is another mysterious Head, in another church with Templar connections in another part of Somerset.
Strangely (and conspiracy theorists can make what they want of this) the Cameley head is not on display to the public, and has never been made available for scientific analysis. Visually, it has striking similarities to the Templecombe head -- the wide, staring eyes, the forked beard, and the lack of a halo which you would expect if the image was meant to represent Jesus Christ. Another view of the Cameley head, which shows the unorthodox iconography even more clearly, is shown below.
Personally, I can't see why the Cameley Head couldn’t have been an “idol” worshipped by the Templars. The style and workmanship look mediaeval. It’s not as if the Head had to represent something really outlandish, like a demon or a pagan god. In the Middle Ages, the notion of “idolatry” would have encompassed the veneration of any unauthorized representation of a Christian saint, or even of Christ himself. Why academics find it so intolerable that the Templars could have worshipped such an image is beyond me.