The Nine brothers of Durham is the first part of the 'Enigma Variations' series of caches. It is an 8 part muticache including microcaches, virtuals and a final cache. It's theme is set in medieval times.
In 1538 King Henry VIII started the Reformation of the church and instigated the dissolution of the monasteries. The Monks, Nuns and higher orders were forcibly evicted and their lands seized and sold to provide Henry with income. In general, the religious inhabitants of the monasteries were treated fairly, but not all of them decided to go quietly and their punishment was often swift and final. Although the King allowed the religious orders to retain much of their personal possessions he sent his agents to seize several artefacts of high value that were know to him. They were to be sold or kept for his private collection.
The Bishop of Durham, Cuthbert Tunstal was tasked by Rome with the mission of saving certain important religious relics before they were seized by the king's men and so it was that he came to ask the Prior of Durham, Abbot Hugh Whitehead to send a group of monks to retrieve and hide certain artefacts. High on their list was an ancient Triptych depicting the resurrection, which has been kept as the main alter piece at Wherwell Abbey. Little known to the king, the triptych contained a secret compartment where an ancient religious manuscript was hidden.
The monks set out to retrieve the triptych and arrived at Wherwell Abbey just before the kings men. They were given advanced warning of the arrival of the king's men and managed to escape to the nearby Harewood forest near the village of Longparish. The kings men found out that they had been beaten to their prize and set up intercept points on the roads then started to search the forests for the monks. Before disappearing into the forest, Brother Philip of Poitou, a prominent scientist within the order risked all to get a message to Abbot Whitehead via the priest at St Nicholas’ church in Longparish.
The message was written in Latin and to the casual observer contained only a description of the brothers’ journey from Durham and a message of good wishes to the Abbot, however an innocent ink smudge in one corner was a hint to the Abbot to hold the parchment close to a naked flame and then to check between the lines for a message written in ‘invisible’ ink. The hidden message contained a request to Abbot Whitehead that he should send a ninth brother to retrieve the Triptych. It said that Brother Philip would meet the ninth brother at a location encrypted within the following sequence;
You are the Ninth Brother and the task that is placed upon you is to find the Eight Brothers hiding in the forest and retrieve the Triptych's secret for Abbot Whitehead before the king’s men find it.
Before you left the Monastery Abbot Whitehead reminded you that you might expect further messages from the brothers in the form of codes and puzzles. These may take the form of sequences or patterns of numbers or coded messages using Caesar or Vigenere cipher techniques. You go equipped with quill and parchment, a source of illumination, a map of Harewood forest, a stout pair of boots and a sense of adventure. God speed your journey and safe return. Near the end of your quest, Henry’s wives may help your cause. Make a record of any further messages.
The main co-ords relate to a parking place for part 1. All parts are accessible from public rights of way. P 3 to 8 are accessible using the 'test way'. It is not necessary to cross any fences. Take care near the final 2 parts as game birds roost nearby. Total distance to walk is approx 5km, can be muddy when wet.
3rd April 2005: Stage 7 and final have been replaced in new positions. When solving stage 6 ADD 00.041 to the Northings and SUBTRACT 00.036 from the Westings.