It was hidden for 350 years behind a monument to a local aristocrat who was ‘martyred’ in the English Civil War for his support of King Charles I but rediscovered in January by astonished conservators.
And baffled experts have resorted to asking members of the public with a keen eye for deciphering puzzles to have a look at the text, and a computer-enhanced version, to see if they can help out.
Tim Tatton Brown, the cathedral’s consultant archaeologist, explained: “The Cathedral’s conservators quite unexpectedly found some beautifully written English text behind the Henry Hyde Monument on the cathedral’s south aisle wall when the monument was temporarily removed as part of the on-going schedule of work.
“I had originally surmised the text date from the 16th century, bearing in mind that the monument was erected soon after 1660. However, our researchers now suggest it was written a century earlier and therefore pre-dates the Reformation.