Has This Boulder’s Mysterious, Centuries-Old Inscription Finally Been Deciphered?
by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
Last spring, the French town of Plougastel-Daoulas hosted a puzzling competition. Whoever successfully translated the mysterious text inscribed on a three-foot-tall boulder found on the commune’s shores would win €2,000, or roughly $2,200 USD. Previous attempts to transcribe the rock’s message had yielded just one clear phrase: “Through these words, you will see the truth.”
Now, reports French daily Ouest-France, the jury has announced the contest’s winner—or, in this case, winners. Celtic language expert Noël René Toudic and a team made up of writer Roger Faligot and comic artist Alain Robet both submitted translations suggesting the boulder’s message is a memorial to a man who died there, inscribed by someone who cared about him. But the two interpretations differ regarding the details of how the individual died and how the inscription’s author knew him.
Toudic posits that a soldier named Grégoire Haloteau wrote the text in memory of one Serge Le Bris, who was sent out to sea during a storm. By Toudic’s translation, the stone reads, “Serge died when, with no skill at rowing, his boat was tipped over by the wind,” according to Zachary Kaiser of the Jerusalem Post. The message is signed by Haloteau and dated to May 8, 1786.