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Joe Hawkins walks for Shugborough's Shepherd's Monument
Shepherd's Monument
The Shepherd's Monument has kept its secret for 250 years

A man from Stafford says he can now restore the grounds around the mysterious Shepherd's Monument on the Shuborough estate in Staffordshire.

Joe Hawkins, the head gardener at Shugborough Hall, did a sponsored walk of 300 miles from Durham to Shugborough.

The funds will help pay for new landscaping aiming to bring the monument back to its former glory.

The ornament is famous for an enigmatic, uncracked code on it.

The walk also celebrated the 300th birthday of Thomas Wright - one of the designers of the encoded monument.

Wright, who was born in Durham, was also a respected English astronomer, mathematician and architect. Joe said that he was one of the main inspirations behind the walk:

"I tried to take in as many of Thomas Wright's landmarks and make a route that went through 18th Century landscapes."

Planting scheme

Joe said he was also looking for a bit of inspiration along the way as he wanted to replace the Victorian feel around the monument with a planting scheme that's more sympathetic to the time when Wright was alive, which was some 100 years earlier.

After the three week march, the landscape gardener reckons that he has raised in excess of £2,000 and says he lost over two stones in weight.

The monument takes its name from its marble relief - a carved image of a painting, Arcadian Shepherds by Nicolas Poussin.

Cipher text

Shepherd's Monument
Can you crack the mysterious code?

The 18th Century monument has been in the news in recent years because of a mysterious cipher text that, as yet, remains unsolved.

It consists of the letters DOUOSVAVVM, with the first and last letters set lower than the rest.

Many people including Charles Darwin and code-breakers from Bletchley Park have tried to crack the code.

Some have suggested that it's merely a simple love letter, while others claim that the inscription points to the location of the Holy Grail.

Code points away from Holy Grail
26 Nov 04 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
The never-ending search
26 Nov 04 |  Magazine
Vandals attack historic monument
19 May 04 |  Staffordshire



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