Cryptic Message Carved on Mysterious Rock Discovered in Brittany

On early May 2019, the village of Plougastel-Daoulas in Brittany, France, has just posted a contest with reward of 2,000 euros ($2,240) for anyone who can translate this very cryptic message on a very mysterious rock, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The stone in question stands on the outskirts of Plougastel-Daoulas. Most of the day, it lurks submerged by the Atlantic Ocean, revealing itself only at low tide. The stone was first spotted three or four years ago, but the mystery of its etchings has stumped the local academics who attempted to crack the code, CNN reports.

The contest is officially called “The Champollion Mystery at Plougastel-Daoulas” in honor of French historian and linguist Jean-François Champollion, who was the first to decipher the Rosetta Stone. Anyone interested in trying their hand at cracking the code can register with mayor’s office, which will give them access to photos of the inscription to work on. So far, several hundred people have expressed interest in participating. The contest will conclude in November, when a panel of experts will assess the interpretations and choose the most plausible translation to receive the cash prize.

Until now no-one has been able to make out the meaning of the 20 lines of writing, discovered a few years ago. Among the normal French letters some are reversed or upside-down. There are also some Scandinavian-style Ø letters. One of the few readable sections of the writing includes two dates - 1786 and 1787 - suggesting that the message was written a few years before the French Revolution. The text is also accompanied by the image of a ship with sails, as well as a sacred heart symbol.

But the writing has defied all attempts at interpretation by local academics. Some think it may be in old Breton or Basque, and that the person who wrote it may only have been semi-literate.

The letters may relate to the sounds of words as he or she heard them.

In one section the letters read: "ROC AR B … DRE AR GRIO SE EVELOH AR VIRIONES BAOAVEL".

Another reads: "OBBIIE: BRISBVILAR ... FROIK … AL".

Some historians have suggested that the writing might have something to do with the construction of naval defenses in the nearby area, however it remains impossible to know for sure.

There is one clue that may shed some light on the mystery: In 1786 and 1787, the area was home to military installations. It’s possible the writing comes from a soldier or builder associated with them. “These dates correspond more or less to the years that various artillery batteries that protected Brest and notably Corbeau Fort which is right next to it," Veronique Martin, a town official who is running the project, tells AFP.


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