A. J. Morton
A. J. Morton is a writer and researcher specialising in the history of the west coast of Scotland. He has been a consultant, contributor or writer for The Sunday Times, Irvine Times, Fortean Times, The Sunday Post, and The Herald.
He is credited with the identification of an unrecorded medieval power centre in the west of Scotland. The burgh of Irvine, he told the Scotland on Sunday in 2010, was an important region of administration between the 12th and 16th centuries, and was possibly a temporary capital of Strathclyde after the sacking of Dumbarton Rock by the Vikings in 870.
As an essayist, Morton has published two papers in the Association for Scottish Literary Studies' Scottish Literary Journal, the premier peer reviewed journal of Scottish literature and literary studies. He has made several notable discoveries.
In 2008, he identified the true author of famous Robert Burns poem "The Master's Apron". Written by a 19th-century American statesman, Henry O. Kent, the poem is no longer associated with Robert Burns. Dr. Corey E. Andrews of Youngstown University, USA said:
"A.J. Morton makes a convincing case that 'The Master's Apron' is not the work of Robert Burns. His research demonstrates that Henry O. Kent wrote this masonic poem almost a hundred years after Burns's death."
In 2009 he privately circulated a thesis titled A new account of the varied associations linking the Kyrk of Kylwynning & the Heid Burrough of Irrwine in Templar-Cunynghame. Because it contained new research on the military orders (The Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller) and a medieval craft guild in the west of Scotland, the paper was popular, and was well received by the academic community.
"Kilwinning could rival Rosslyn Chapel as a major tourist attraction..."
Dr. Gerard Carruthers of Glasgow University called the paper "a highly nuanced, empirical and sane approach to an area that has been all too often hijacked by sensation-seekers, conspiracy theorists and fantasists. An excellent piece of historical research."
Since portions of the paper were first published, an archaeological dig has taken place, the mainstreet has had a multi-million pound makeover, and the search has begun for the grave of Robert the Bruce's Chancellor Bernard of Kilwinning.
In July 2009, The Sun, Evening Times and Daily Mail claimed that Morton, during his research into a 12th-century abbey in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, had discovered the location of the Holy Grail. According to The Sun, Morton thinks "Indiana Jones would have been better off trawling for the goblet in the streets of Kilwinning."
Morton has denied any connection between his research and the Holy Grail. The Irvine Times wrote, "AJ has hit out against some sources who have misinterpreted his findings. He said he would 'adore' Irvine and Kilwinning becoming historical tourist traps, but said he believed the Grail myth was 'a fantasy'".
Stone of Destiny
In December 2010, The Scotland on Sunday claimed A.J.Morton had been speculating on the whereabouts of Evonium, an early medieval power centre on the west coast first mentioned by Hector Boece. According to Boece, the Stone of Destiny was originally kept at Evonium before it was moved east. A.J.Morton has identified Irvine, Ayrshire as a possible candidate. He has justified this by bringing attention to the political and royal importance of Irvine in the 12th century:
According to the Scotland on Sunday: John Balliol, the Royal Lord of Cunninghame and the last Scottish king to be crowned on the Stone before it was seized and taken to England in 1296, was a hereditary overlord of the town. Morton has concluded that Evonium would have been more likely to be in Ayrshire, closer to the Irish coast, rather than in a remote part of Argyll, suggesting that the town's name, and the fact that it was once known as the capital of Cunninghame, might itself be a clue.
A.J.Morton said: We can't be certain that Evonium actually existed, so we can't properly identify the Stone's western home, or say with any certainty that Irvine is most definitely Evonium. What is certain is that the Irvine district was enormously important in the middle ages. The most intriguing evidence concerns Irvine’s links with early monarchs and officers of Norman Scotland.
The Shugborough Code
In January 2011 the Irvine Times revealed that A.J.Morton had solved the Shugborough inscription. The letters O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V. & D.M., the Times explained, were probably created for, by, or in memorial of, Viscount Anson and his wife Mary Vernon-Venables. Morton, in an Irvine Times interview, said:
It is highly unlikely the Shugborough Inscription has anything to do with the Holy Grail. It is possible, indeed very likely, that Mary Venables-Vernon of Sudbury Hall, the Baron Vernon of Derbyshire, the honourable Edward Vernon-Harcourt and the 1st Viscount Anson of Orgreave (a hamlet United with Overley) and Shugborough were somehow involved in the creation of the original “Shugborough Code”. Or are all those Vs just a coincidence?
- Belgutay, J., "Searching for the Holy Grail", The Sunday Times, 18 July 2009, p. 6
- J. M. Fulton, "Irvine was Scottish Capital", p.1 & 5
- Morton, A. J. (2010). "Robert Burns: Two Recent Discoveries Pertaining to his Freemasonic Associations". Scottish Literary Review (ASLS) 2 (1): 135–141. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- Cowing, Emma (19 December 2010). "Stone of Destiny 'from Ayrshire, not Perthshire'". Scotland on Sunday.
- Irvine Historian May Have Solved Ancient Puzzle, Irvine Times, 31 January 2011
- J. McNee, "Irvine Historian May Have Solved Ancient Puzzle", Irvine Times 26 January 2011 p.1 & 12
- Robert Burns Ode Penned by American – Sunday Times
- Stone of Destiny from Ayrshire not Perthshire – Scotland on Sunday
- Searching for the Holy Grail – Sunday Times
- Nikola Tesla in Scotland
- BBC Interview with A.J.Morton
- A.J. Solves mystery of the 39 Steps – Irvine Times
- Film Crew in Kilwinning on the Trail of the Holy Grail – Irvine Herald
- Expert says Holy Grail is in Kilwinning – The Sun
- Expert never said Holy Grail was in Kilwinning – Irvine Times
- Did Irvine Give Birth to the First Scottish Spud – MediaUK
- Father of Burns lived in Irvine Valley – Clyde & Forth Media
- Locals Dig Start of Abbey Tower Project – Ardrossan Herald
- Kilwinning Community Archaeology Project
- A.J.Morton Official Website