The two winners of the competition pose in front of the famous inscription engraved on the rock. - Fred Tanneau / AFP
Engraved on a rock almost 250 years ago, a mysterious inscription has long been turning heads in Plougastel-Daoulas. At the end of an international competition launched in May by this small town in Finistère, the mystery now seems partly solved. "Today, we have taken a big step," said Mayor Dominique Cap on Monday, revealing the names of the two winners.
"We have a totally different path but we still arrive at a background of history which is similar, that of a sailor who perished at sea and a loved one who had this stone carved in his homage," explained the chosen one. The jury of the competition, made up in particular of historians, selected two hypotheses among the 61 received, the vast majority from France, but also from Brazil, the United States, Thailand, Russia, Spain or Italy.
Parts of the text not yet deciphered
For the two winning teams, it is a text in Breton and the dates correspond to the moments of the facts and the engraving. The first hypothesis, put forward by Noël René Toudic, associate professor of English and graduate of Celtic studies, evokes a soldier, Serge Le Bris, who would have perished at sea during a storm. Another soldier, Grégoire Haloteau, is said to have engraved the text in honor of the deceased. The second proposal, made by Roger Faligot, reporter, writer and author, and Alain Robet, cartoonist and author of comics, mentions a person expressing his anger against those responsible for the death of a friend.
"There is still a long way to go to completely lift the mystery," said Dominique Cap, adding that certain parts of the text could not be deciphered and that there was still an attempt to identify the two soldiers whose the names were deciphered by Noël René Toudic.
The rock will be highlighted by the municipality
The town, at the origin of this operation called "The Mystery Champollion", from the name of the scientist considered as the father of Egyptology, now intends to highlight the rock, making it more accessible in particular.
Located on a shore at the foot of a cliff, it is entirely engraved on one of its faces, with capital letters for the most part, but also with drawings, including a sailboat with its mast and saffron. There are also dates, including 1786 and 1787, roughly corresponding to the years of construction of the various batteries that protected the harbor of Brest.
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