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Was Ben Hammott’s Rennes-le-Château Tomb Discovery Really a Hoax?

By Cam Clayton

(Copyright 2016, Cam Clayton – All Rights Reserved)

<Edited by Robert D. Morningsatar>



22 Reasons to suspect that Ben Hammott’s “Confession” is part of a disinformation campaign.

In 1999, Ben Hammott claimed to have found a Templar tomb near to Rennes-le-Château. The story of how he found the tomb was improbable (he followed obscure ‘clues’ found in Bérenger Saunière’s church) and the story of how he happened to film the interior of the tomb was just as improbable (he accidently dropped his camera down a hole, somehow disengaging the sound, and then fished it out, all while lighting and filming the tomb interior).

Nonetheless, Hammott’s story gained some attention and was eventually incorporated into the 2008 documentary, Bloodline, which postulated that the tomb that Ben Hammott had found was actually Mary Magdalene’s tomb.  For good measure, Hammott also found several bottle messages and a chest, all apparently hidden by Saunière in the landscape of Rennes-le-Château.  Remarkably, these were found while filming the movie, almost as if they were staged.  

Finally in 2013, Ben Hammott confessed that he hoaxed the entire affair.


One might think that this is just the story of a prankster who took advantage of gullible enthusiasts of the Rennes-le-Château mystery.  Indeed, some are of the opinion that the Bloodline debacle was a fittingly ridiculous denouement to an absurdly hyped-up minor mystery whose time had passed. But think again! There is more than meets the eye in the Ben Hammott affair.

The fact is, Hammott’s ‘confession’ is implausible.  In this article, I present 22 reasons to suspect that the real hoax in this story is actually Ben Hammott’s ‘confession.  

Below 22 reasons to suspect that Ben Hammott actually did find the tomb of Mary Magdalene and that his ‘confession’ is part of a disinformation campaign designed to discredit his own work and to protect the tomb and its precious contents.


To begin, let’s take a look at Hammott’s ‘confession’ statement.1 As will soon become apparent, the inaccuracies and inconsistencies found in this ‘confession’ prove that this document is not to be trusted.

1. First of all, this document makes use of American spelling.  Ben Hammott is not American.  This suggests that the ‘confession’ was written by someone other than Hammott.

2. In fact, Ben Hammott’s estranged wife has already confirmed that Hammott did not write this ‘confession’ statement.  On a forum used by Rennes-le-Château researchers, ‘VeryAngryMother’ (as she is known there) declared the following: “that confession statement was obviously not penned by Hammott”.2 If it is obvious to Hammott’s own wife, then it should be obvious to us: Hammott’s ‘confession’ statement was crafted by persons unknown for purposes unknown.

In the ‘confession’ statement, Ben Hammott allegedly declares that, “everything I said I discovered is a hoax, planted by me and only me.”

Tour Magdala

 However, this claim that Hammott acted alone is contradicted by the following facts:

3. Hammott’s brother was present when Ben found the original tomb.  This fact is documented in Hammott’s own book.3

4. Hammott’s estranged wife (‘VeryAngryMother’) has admitted to being present when Hammott allegedly drew some of the bottle messages.4

5. Bill Kersey, as clearly shown in a scene in Bloodline5, told Hammott to return to the site of one of the bottle finds because he thought there was a second bottle buried under it. Lo and behold, there was! Here is how Bruce Burgess, director of Bloodline, remembers it:

Anyway, as Ben triumphantly removed the bottle from the soil, our camera caught Bill Kersey saying that he thought there was another bottle underneath it. Either Ben didn’t hear him, or just ignored him, who knows. But why would Mr Kersey say that? Back at the edit suite in Los Angeles, I listened and re-listened to the audio. it was clear that Kersey was sure there was another bottle there.”6

It seems that it was Bill Kersey, not Ben Hammott, who knew where to find the bottles.  Furthermore, it was Bill Kersey, not Ben Hammott, who found the chest in a grotto near to Rennes-le-Château.

6. Also documented in a scene in Bloodline is the following give-away: Sandy Hamblett, an archeologist who specializes in the history of Rennes-le-Château, blurts out, “it’s a key!” before Hammott finishes opening one of Saunière’s bottle messages.  Guess what was on the allegedly unseen bottle message:  The drawing of a key!7 

Coincidence?  Unlikely.


According to Scott F. Wolter, researcher who worked with Hamblett, it was actually Hamblett and not Hammott who made most of the discoveries:

“Sandy had made most [of] the inscribed stone and bottle message discoveries, but Ben found the tomb…8

One is left wondering whether Hammott was actually responsible for anything besides his initial tomb discovery!  These facts prove that Ben Hammott was not working alone. While this does not, by itself, prove that Hammott’s findings are genuine, they are enough to prove that this ‘confession’ document is not truthful and cannot be trusted.

7. Theconfession statement’ goes on to declare that, “everyone else were unwitting pawns in my game.” This is simply not plausible. The individuals involved in this affair are all too intelligent and too worldly to be merely ‘unwitting pawns’ in a devious game. Let’s face it, Ben Hammott is no evil genius. He is of middling intelligence at best. In fact, the ‘hoax’ story would also have us believe that, while carefully forging Bérenger Saunière’s signature to one of the documents, Hammott spelled Saunière’s name incorrectly (Saunière vs. Sauniére).  I submit that no man is capable of bearing within himself both that level of cunning and that amount of stupidity.

8. In fact, the ‘game’ that has been described to us (finding bottle messages on cue for a film crew, spelling Saunière’s name incorrectly, discovering — by dowsing no less! — a chest in a previously well-explored grotto, etc) is so ridiculous that Ben’s ‘unwitting pawns’ would have had to have been ‘unwitting’ to the point of mindless stupidity.  How many of these ‘unwitting pawns’ have stepped forward and admitted to this level of mental incapacity?  Answer: -> None.


In short, Hammott is not smart enough, and those involved are not dumb enough, for this ‘hoax’ scenario to be plausible.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of credible researchers who, based on the evidence available to them at the time, judged Hammott’s discoveries to be authentic.  Although some of these individuals may no longer support Hammott, their belief in him at the time speaks volumes.  The following individuals are researchers whose judgments we can trust:

9. Sandy Hamblett is an archaeologist who specializes in Rennes-le-Château. She publishes and edits a scholarly research journal entitled Rhedesium: Journal of Rennes-le-Château Studies.9 With these credentials, she would certainly not have fallen for a hoax of this kind. So we should bear in mind that, at that time, she fully endorsed Ben Hammott’s research, his discoveries, and his manly good character.

10. Ian Campbell is a respected Rennes-le-Château author. He has co-authored the following books on Rennes-le-Château: Geneset : Target Earth and Poussin’s Secret10  At a 2008 meeting of the ‘Rennes Group’ – a Rennes-le-Château research society – Ben Hammott presented his findings.  Bringing his vast experience and knowledge of the subject to bear upon the matter, Campbell stood up, started clapping and declared:

 “Well done. At last someone has found something.” 11

Tour the Church of Rennes-Les-Chateau with the Cassiopiea Rennes Research Group


11. Bill Kersey is a respected researcher in the Rennes-le-Château genre. His books include Still Spins the Spider of Rennes-le-Château and The Keys of Antiquity and the Ancient Cipher12.  This is what Bill Kersey had to say about Hammott’s discoveries:

Having been present on many of the finds with the Hammott team I know that they are real. Ben could not have faked these.”13

Even after Ben Hammott’s alleged ‘confession’, Kersey is still certain that Hammott’s finding are genuine.14   Kersey’s quiet, but continuing endorsement of Hammott’s discoveries suggests that Kersey knows that Hammott’s ‘confession’ was a ruse of some sort.

12. There were other experts who also deemed Hammott’s discoveries to be real but perhaps the most convincing endorsement comes, not from another research expert, but from a lie detector test. In 2008, Ben Hammott agreed to take a lie detector test. Rat Scabies, a famous musician of the punk rock variety, directly questioned Hammott as to the veracity of his claims and findings. Hammott passed the test without a hint of deception!15

13.  In his ‘confession statement’  Hammott declares, “Perhaps I did it for the money.”  There is a golden rule in any conspiracy theory: “Follow the money.”  So, ask yourselves, has anyone made any money through the twists and turns of this ‘hoax’?  Ben Hammott certainly has not. There is very little money to be made from self-publishing and Bloodline apparently lost money.16   This ‘hoax’ profited no one.

In fact, Hammott has even avoided publishing a potentially lucrative ‘tell-all’ book documenting his ‘hoax’.  Instead, Hammott has taken to writing novels in the explorer/treasure hunter genre.17   Who would undertake and maintain a 15 year hoax that the world would largely ignore and that would be more likely to cost money than make money?

Answer: No one.


14. Meanwhile, consider how many people are taking legal action against Ben Hammott and his ‘fraud’ – no one! If this is really a fraudulent hoax, why have none of Hammott’s ‘unwitting pawns’, particularly the producers of Bloodline, sued him or had him charged with fraud?

15. On one of the bottle messages that were found, there is an image of a key. The ‘hoax’ story would have us believe that Hammott composed this image himself.  However, an exact duplicate of this key (in oversized metallic form) has been found in Girona, Spain! 18 The owner of this key has been quoted as saying the following:

Thanks, I have the originals. the original scrolls found a family of Toulouse in 2004. Ben’s copy in 2006. … As for the date, he goes back to the 1rst century and says that there was a drawing from Tolouse that could have been used as a model for the red ink drawing.” 19

The discovery of this giant key suggests that this key motif has a significance that pre-dates the message that Ben allegedly composed.  As one commentator rhetorically asks, “Why would the Girona mob produce a key which ostensibly is a direct copy of a admitted fraud, at the risk of making themselves look like a bunch of fraudsters?” Indeed. They wouldn’t.

16. As documented in his book, Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar  20, Ben Hammott has been the subject of attempts upon his life.  His brakes were cut and his campervan was set on fire. As Bill Kersey notes:

Saunière had to conceal his knowledge and artefacts because of murders and death threats. These forces try to stop this knowledge from being circulated even in this day. You can read about what happened to his brakes in [Hammott’s] book. Who set fire to [Hammott’s] campervan when it was parked in England? What other threats did he receive?” 21

Henri Poussin’s “Les Auberges d’ Arcadie” –  The Shepards of Arcadia

“Et in Arcadia Ego”


If this were merely a hoax, no one would be trying to kill Hammott! 

These attempts on Hammott’s life indicate that this affair is far more serious than just a simple prankster punking a gullible research community.  Meanwhile, Hammott has now gone into hiding, probably fearing for his life.  A simple prankster would have no need or desire to go into hiding.

17.  Listed here in this article, there are 22 reasons to believe that Ben Hammott’s ‘confession’ was a hoax.  And this particular reason is listed as number 17.

The Numbers 22 and 17 are numbers that recur throughout the mystery of Rennes-le-Château.22  Even this footnote is Number 22!  Tp this writer, this indicates a resonance between this article and the mystery.

18. Bruce Burgess, director of Bloodline, has suggested that, while filming, he knew that the whole thing was a hoax:

When Ben found bottle three up on Blanchefort, I went with him… I must admit that I thought the whole treasure was silly beyond belief, so I took a nap in the bushes… And guess what, they found a crack in the ‘Guardian’ rock which resembled (???) the crack on one of the stations of the cross in the church, in which was a stone marker, and although they removed it, somehow remembered that it pointed in a certain direction (???) which led to a rock, under which was… yes, you’ve guessed it, the small brownish bottle contained clue three. Glad I was sleeping off lunch.” 23

This revelation by Burgess is problematic.  Did he reveal to the movie producers and investors that this was all ‘silly beyond belief’?  Since he had a fiduciary duty to the production company,  I assume that he did.  But then, why did they continue with filming?  Why did they use footage of this ‘silliness’ and feature Hammott so prominently?

Actually, I find this anecdote implausible. Burgess was in the middle of filming what could have been the most explosive discovery in the history of Christianity — proof that Mary Magdalene carried the seed of Jesus Christ to the south of France.  And he thought the whole thing was ‘silly beyond belief’?!  And then he fell asleep in the bushes?!  We must take Bruce Burgess at his word until there is solid evidence to the contrary.  Nonetheless, I find this version of events problematic.

19. Furthermore, are we to believe that the Bloodline production team, with its research assistants, its crew, and its investors, could not see through a ‘hoax’ that was ‘silly beyond belief’?  Was this movie really just a misguided attempt to re-fashion the story of Mary Magdalene by a naïve and gullible production company?  Or was this movie itself part of a disinformation campaign whose ultimate purpose was to discredit Hammott and to invite ridicule upon the entire Mary Magdalene/Rennes-le-Château genre?  

These questions are merely speculative. There is no evidence that the Bloodline production team was anything but credulous and genuine.  I just can’t help but wonder whether there might be more to the story.

20.  Consider Ben Hammott’s radio ‘confession’: 24 Again, Hammott claims in this interview to have acted alone.  But there is something odd about this interview:  

The interviewer sounds completely unprepared.  She barely gets out three or four semi-coherent questions and seems more concerned with confining the blame solely to Hammott than with establishing what actually happened.  Hammott’s answers to these questions sound like they are being read from notes.

Later in the interview the questions become so lame that Hammott becomes confused by their pointlessness.  There is so much fumfering, fumbling and time wasting that, in an hour, Hammott is limited to about five minutes of talking.  It was as if the interviewer did not want to dig too deeply lest Hammott inadvertently say too much!

Towards the end of the interview, there is one exchange that tells us all we need to know about Ben Hammott’s ‘confession’ and this interview.  

The question is posed:

“Should we believe anything that you are saying now?”

Hammott replies:

“I wouldn’t.” 


Indeed!  In my opinion, we should not put much faith in Hammott’s so-called “confession.”  It all seems a little too staged.

The same can be said about Hammott’s next ‘hoax’, a fake Ark of the Covenant.  This hoax and the model that it is based upon is so lame, so witless, so ridiculously stupid, that it could not possibly have been designed to fool anyone.  I can’t help but wonder whether Hammott’s radio interview and his Ark-hoax were staged in order to validate the ‘Hammott is a fraud’ narrative and the confession-hoax charade.

21. Gus Stiver, the pseudonymous author and editor of a strange little pamphlet entitled The Truth Behind the Ben Hammott Confession Hoax, claims to have been contacted by a member of the Priory of Sion who claimed that the Priory had made a deal with Hammott to conceal the location of the tomb. 25   We have no definitive proof that this is the case.  However, the Priory of Sion has confirmed that there are ancient tombs that they are protecting in the area of Rennes-le-Château. 26   It would hardly be surprising if one of these tombs were discovered.  And it would hardly be surprising if the Priory of Sion orchestrated some sort of cover-up to protect the location and the contents of that tomb. 27

22. In conclusion, let’s take a look at another quote from Hammott’s ‘confession’ statement:

Today I have no money, no family life, no home and now probably very few friends. It is perhaps a well disserved outcome.”

Hammott’s ‘confession’ statement is carefully crafted except for this one apparent misspelling: “it is perhaps a well disserved outcome/”

It has been assumed that what Hammott meant to say was “a well-deserved outcome.”  But let us not assume anything beyond the actual text; let us read this statement as written: “It is perhaps a well disserved outcome.”  A “disserved outcome” is an outcome that was served improperly — an outcome that is a disservice to those involved.

So what is Hammott really telling us?

La Magdeleine


This writer believes that Ben Hammott was saying that the outcome of his research is a disservice to both Hammott himself and to Rennes research, in general.  28:  

It is a disservice to Hammott because it portrays him as ridiculous and unscrupulous when, based upon the evidence presented above, it is more likely that Ben Hammott is a courageous and deeply loyal individual who is protecting the tomb and legacy of Mary Magdalene at the price of his own reputation.  

And it is a disservice to the Rennes-le-Château research community because they deserve to know the truth behind the Ben Hammott ‘confession’ hoax.

The Pentagram & The Paris Meridian

Cam Clayton

Toronto, Canada

March 3rd, 2016


Links to Background Information:

Rennes-le-Château: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennes-le-Ch%C3%A2teau

Holy Blood, Holy Grail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_Blood_and_the_Holy_Grail

Ben Hammott’s Book: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Tomb-Knights-Templar-Hammott/dp/0956236944

Ben Hammott’s Website: http://www.benhammott.com/

Bloodline The Movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190537/

Ben Hammott’s ‘Confession’ Statement: www.benhammott.com/statement.html

Ben Hammott’s Radio ‘Confession’: www.youtube.com/watch?v= ylj0jNhRl80&feature=share&list=UUTISd9C96OMuR_mCJQ5TBfw

The Truth Behind the Ben Hammott Confession-Hoax: https://www.createspace.com/4405311

1.  www.benhammott.com/statement.html

3.   Ben Hammott, Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar (Ben Hammott, 2008)

6.  http://www.forum.andrewgough.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3260&sid=2850e8c07ebb108dac7861ac1bd0a653&start=25

7.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t52AYNq7HE

8.   Scott F. Wolter, From Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers: The Mysteries of the Hooked X (North Star Press of St. Cloud, 2013)9.  http://www.rhedesium.com/

15.  You can read about this incident here: http://andrewgough.co.uk/interviews_hammott/

20. Ben Hammott, Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar (Ben Hammott, 2008)

28.  Rennes-le-Château enthusiasts.


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