Photo: City of Plougastel

The Mystery of This French Town’s Stone Inscription May Finally Be Solved

News Archaeology
by Eben Diskin Mar 5, 2020

If you were hoping to solve the French town of Plougastel-Daoulas’ great mystery by deciphering the inscription on its mysterious stone and claim the $2,235 reward, you’re too late. The writing carved into the 250-year-old stone that is only visible at low tide, has finally been partially translated.

The small town of 13,000 inhabitants received more than 2,000 requests to participate in the contest that was launched in May 2019. In the end, 600 participants attempted to reveal the mystery of the stone, but only two managed to convince the panel of historians judging the contest.

Two possible translations were offered. The first, by Noel René Toudic, suggests that the message is an obituary for a soldier sailing through a tempest, and never returned. The second, put forward by Robert Faligot, claims the inscription was left by someone wanting to curse the people responsible for a friend’s death.

The inscription contains around 20 lines of text, the carving of a sailboat and a sacred heart, and the dates 1786 and 1787 are also legible. It has since been confirmed to be 18th-century Breton.

The two hypotheses are still under review as some sections remain to be translated. Both codebreakers will be awarded the coveted $2,235 prize.

A version of this article was previously published on May 16, 2019, and was updated on March 5, 2020, with more information.

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