In A View From News, October 5 2011, Harry Walton writes: –
Portland author Carol Hunt has been in touch with me about my interest in discovering skull and crossbones on various graves near Church Ope Cove.
She said: ‘The so-called pirate graves in the ruins of St Andrew’s Church at Church Ope have long since fascinated me and my book Portland Pirates, the third book in the Portland Chronicles, which will be released in mid-October, is inspired by these mysterious gravestones.
‘During my book research, I found out that the skull and crossbones is a mediaeval symbol. Its origins lie with the Knights Templar, for whom it meant death and resurrection.
‘The Templars were once a major international maritime force and flew this symbol on their ships. After the Crusades, many were forced to make a living as pirates.
‘Other Knights Templar were skilled masons, so the skull and crossbones was also adopted by the Freemasons to denote a Master Mason.
‘So although we nowadays associate the symbol with piracy, its origins and possible meanings are more complex. The graves at Church Ope are certainly intriguing.’