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Officials: Help Us Solve This Strange Inscription

It's about 20 lines on an old rock in France
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2019 10:35 AM CDT
A finger points at the inscription.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Anyone speak Breton or Basque? It might help in deciphering an old inscription on a rock in France—and local officials are prepared to pay handsomely for it, Fox News reports. The roughly person-sized rock was found on a remote beach in northwest France a few years ago. "ROC AR B … DRE AR GRIO SE EVELOH AR VIRIONES BAOAVEL," reads one part, while another helpfully adds, "OBBIIE: BRISBVILAR ... FROIK … AL." There are dates ("1786" and "1787") as well as images of a ship and a sacred heart, but whether it's a love note or a proud testament by an eighteenth-century fort-builder—or something else—remains unknown, per AFP. So officials in the town of Plougastel are offering about $2,250 for anyone who can figure it out.

One clue is that gun placements were positioned there to guard the Bay of Brest from the English in the 1780s. The two above 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," says search leader Veronique Martin. The town has already consulted archaeologists and historians "from around here," Mayor Dominique Cap tells the BBC, only to learn it might be in old Breton or Basque. Ergo the reward, which has received interest from hundreds of people. A panel will choose the best answer once the contest closes in November. "Rather than stay in ignorance, we said let's launch a competition," says Cap. (Here's a simple inscription on a much more recent stone.)

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