Mysterious Script Found in Vilnius.

From last September comes this Lithuanian National Radio and Television story:

A mysterious tablet with an unknown 13th-14th-century script is on display at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania Museum. No one knows what it means or where it came from. LRT TV journalist Virginijus Savukynas reports.

The plaque was found twenty years ago while exploring Vilnius castles. Archaeologists were using a metal detector to scout the location where some of the earliest wooden structures were located. Expecting to find no more than a simple axe, instead, they discovered something else entirely – a rectangular strip of metal with strange engravings. Such scripts have surfaced in Lithuania for the first time. […]

“We tried to find a logical explanation for the markings: on the sides of the tablet, the beginning and the end were marked with crosses, as if they were marking the beginning and the end of the text,” said Gintautas Striška, head of the Archaeology and Architecture Department at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania Museum in Vilnius. “The text is clearly composed of several lines. The top line seems to be written in two ways – signs and letters, and the bottom line has several more lines with various inscriptions,” he added.

“At the time, we thought that part of the text may have been written in ancient Greek. With the help of linguists, we saw that part of it could be translated as ‘Algirdas Basileus’ – that is, ‘King Algirdas’,” said Striška. After a while, however, the archaeologists abandoned their fruitless search. “The letters only resemble Greek letters, and a person who carved them may have missed something or combined several letters into one, making deciphering the record difficult,” he added. […]

It is also possible that the inscriptions on the plate are engraved in several languages, making it difficult to read. Now, the researchers have turned to visitors and researchers to present their ideas on how to read this 13th-14th-century text.

As Dmitry Pruss, who sent me the story, points out, there’s no link to anything scholarly, and frankly the images look like gibberish to me, but check it out!


  1. Looks a bit like alchemical symbols.

    Probably a bit of Renaissance hooga booga that they misdated to 13th / 14th century.

    If it’s not alchemical, it also resembles medieval tradesmen symbols. Might be some list commemorating the tradesmen working on repair & maintenance or on construction.

  2. David Marjanović says

    Might be some list commemorating the tradesmen working on repair & maintenance or on construction.

    Yes. The symbols look like stonemasons’ marks to me.

  3. The tablet is metal. Would stonemasons not have chiseled their marks on stone?

    The fact that the tablet was found affixed to the stone with nails suggests it was made at some unspecifiable distance from the stone (thus not by stonemasons) and brought to the stone for affixation possibly by someone other than a stonemason.

  4. David Marjanović says

    Doesn’t mean all the stonemasons weren’t invited to put their marks on it to make them more visible. On the actual stone they’re hard to see in most conditions.

    I’ve never seen or read of a metal plate with stonemasons’ marks, but the idea doesn’t seem terribly farfetched to me.

  5. M.: A memorial plaque by the stonemasons’ guild?

  6. For my money, Memorial Plaque was the best album the Stonemasons’ Guild ever recorded.

  7. If you like ’70s prog-folk, anyway.

  8. David Marjanović says

    Well, the only organized stonemasons I know are certainly mysterious…



  9. the only organized stonemasons

    Stonemasonry is a generic term including various kinds of stone cutting as well as stone carving. The former are skilled trades embodied in closed guilds, whereas stone carving is an art and an open guild, it being well understood that the son of an artist is not necessarily an artist.

  10. Something’s amiss with your comment that I can’t fix.

  11. Something’s amiss with your comment that I can’t fix

    I may steal this line for a song lyric, if you don’t mind.

  12. Ha ha. Yes its potency would be wasted on Taylor Swift.

  13. From the article, I’m not certain it was found with a wooden structure or a stone castle.
    But what strikes me as most puzzling, given their request for suggested readings or interpretations, is why they
    showed the writing or symbols on only one side of the artifact. That apparently limited access to half, or more, of the data.

  14. It’s messy, but all the text is there and the link to WP works. Obviously the redundant “various types of stone cutting, which are” should be deleted, along with the gibberish composing the second paragraph, whereas the third paragraph should begin with “<a ".

  15. “Stronemasonyy” indeed.

  16. dronemasonry, on the other hand?
    (on display in the hurdy-gurdy trio track that makes up most of side B of Memorial Plaque)

  17. Lithuanian cant?

Speak Your Mind