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Mysterious inscription on medieval sword puzzles researchers
The British Library asked for help to interpret the inscription on this medieval sword. - photo by Natalie Crofts
LONDON When a medieval message stumped experts at the British Library, they decided to turn to a modern tool for help: the power of crowdsourcing through social media.

The message in question is inscribed on a double-edged sword currently displayed as part of the librarys special Magna Carta exhibit. Researchers shared photos of the inscription, which reads +NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+, on the British Librarys medieval manuscripts blog and received an overwhelming response.

Due to the phenomenal range of suggestions, its unlikely that we will be able to decipher the mysterious inscription before Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy closes on 1 September indeed, it could be a mystery that may never be solved! but we would like to offer huge thanks for all your thoughts and ideas, which have come from all corners of the globe, an update on the librarys original blog post reads.

The 13th century sword turned up in the River Witham in Englands Lincolnshire, in July 1825, according to the British Library. Although it was found in England, researchers believe the sword may have been manufactured in Germany. These types of inscribed swords were all the rage in Europe around the year 1200, according to Utrecht Universitys Marc van Hasselt.

While it has yet to be determined what language the message was written in, researchers think it is likely Latin. Similar swords feature letter combinations meant as invocations to saints and members of the Godhead.

Anyone who thinks they have insight into the meaning of the message can contribute to the effort on Twitter by mentioning @BLMedieval, according to the British Library. Researchers wouldnt say whether they believe tipsters have solved the mystery just yet.

The sword is an impressive artifact, coming in at 38 inches long. It measures 6.5 inches across the hilt and weighs just under three pounds.

If struck with sufficient force, it could easily have sliced a mans head in two, a description on the librarys blog reads.
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