A nail from the time of Christ's crucifixion which was hidden by the same knights who featured in The Da Vinci Code has been found in a dig.
The four-inch Roman relic, stored in an ornate box, was uncovered by archaeologists working at a fort thought to have been a former Knights Templar stronghold.
It was buried with three skeletons and three swords, including one with the religious order's cross on its blade, on the tiny island of Ilheu de Pontinha, off Madeira.
The iron nail is of the type used in thousands of crucifixions - but it is special.
Archaeologist Bryn Walters said: "It dates from the 1st to 2nd centuries. You'd expect the surface to be pitted and rough after so long. But this was smooth.
"It looks like it had been handled by a lot of people over a long period of time and the acid from their hands have given it a peculiar finish."
Yesterday Christopher Macklin of the Knights Templar of Britannia described last summer's find as "momentous".
He said evidence the nail had been handled a lot "indicates it was of great interest to many people". He believes the original Knights Templar thought it was a genuine artefact from Christ's crucifixion.
They occupied Jerusalem during the Crusades a thousand years after Christ, and claimed to be guardians of the Holy Grail, the cross and other relics. The Da Vinci Code portrays them as a modern secret society.