Mystery at the British Museum
What does +NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+ mean?
That’s what historians at the British Museum are trying to find out.
A steel sword dating back to medieval times has those letters inscribed on its side in gold wire and nobody has been able to decipher it since the sword was found in July 1825, according to the museum, which loaned the artifact to the British Library recently for its Magna Carta commemoration.
Since the library opened up the public comments section on Aug. 3 on a blog post about the sword, suggestions have poured in.
The 38-inch long sword weighs in at two pounds 10 ounces and was probably owned by a wealthy individual, museum officials said. The likely German-manufactured blade is thin, yet strong, and “if struck with sufficient force, it could easily have sliced a man’s head in two,” according to the museum.
As for the mystery inscription, the museum highlighted one leading theory from Marc van Hasselt, a graduate student of medieval studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Van Hasselt said he thinks the blade’s inscription has religious ties that are written in Latin.
“This makes sense in the context of 13th-century Europe, as Latin was the international language of choice (like English is today),” Van Hasselt wrote in the library’s blog post, noting that be based his opinion on a similar inscription style on a sword found in the Netherlands and another that is currently in Berlin. Germany.