The Treasure of Shugborough Monument by Dave Ramsden
I was brought up on Treasure Stories. I always loved Mark Twain’s quote, that “There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” When I was a child I was drawn to Kit William’s books and their pages, filled with the promise of reward if only one could find and solve their riddles. In later years my treasure hunting bug was nurtured by a love of history, Edward Rowe Snow’s tales of New England Pirates, and an ever-present fascination with riddles and patterns.
I am an adult now, and in my latest years I have learned that the biggest draw for me is the mystery. When I first learned of the Shugborough Monument inscription, the combination of the mysterious context of the monument and the very real, unsolved cipher was an irresistible challenge to me. But it became more, throughout the years. It became an opportunity to research beyond the exaggerated headline that Thomas Anson’s marble inscription had become in order to truly understand, as much as possible, the real lives, times and ideas of those involved in its construction.
Every year a new theory arises, and if it is a slow news day it makes a headline somewhere. I suppose that every theory grants us some perspective on the mystery, some more far-fetched than others. But I prefer those historically grounded efforts that involve the dusting off of some old manuscripts. Days spent in libraries smelling the musty pages of yellowed texts. Chatting with archivists or ordering microfilm from somewhere far across the sea, just to run down a lead. In time one realizes there is a world of knowledge that is slowly vanishing, and a relatively small cadre of people that still value, and even appreciate it. Even ideas, themselves, are slowly being lost to entropy.
But once in a while we find something. Something rare, perhaps appreciated only by ourselves: a solution to a mystery. And that moment of enlightenment brings a flash of joy as bright as gold in the sun, and as exciting as the sound of a shovel connecting with wood, buried under the sand. I cannot explain it better than that, but certainly Twain was onto something. Whether my own proposed solution is valid or not I may never know, but the act of searching for it, the experiences and people I have known, and those rare flashes of insight and adrenaline- those are my treasures.
Thank you Dave for sharing such an inspiring treasure story. You prove there are ‘mysteries’ out there to solve for those who dare to take up the challenge, and convey how thrilling it is to set out and discover answers!
Please be sure to check out Dave’s book entitled, ‘Unveiling the Mystic Ciphers: Thomas Anson and the Shepherd’s Monument Inscription’. It is a wonderful walk through history and the conclusion is a powerful ‘Treasure’!