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The Alan Turing
Cryptography Competition.
edition 2017
You are reading the website of the 2017 edition of the competition, which ended on Saturday 29th April at 11:59 pm.

Mike and Ellie will return for a new adventure next year!

The website for that new edition, to start in January 2018, appears in December here. If you would like to receive a reminder around that time by email please look here. For any particular enquiries you can contact us on cryptography_competition@manchester.ac.uk.
The Tale of the



Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!
Is released!

The Alan Turing

Cryptography Day


Want to come over to Manchester for a bit of live crypto stuff, the prize ceremony and an opportunity to meet the organisers?

Find out more!

Chapter 3 of the Tale of The Mediæval Manuscript.

1899, John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester

"No! Not there!" shouted Mrs Rylands from the balcony at the far end of the Reading Room to two unfortunate workmen, who were struggling to lift a heavy statue onto a plinth. "It makes NO sense for Newton to face Shakespeare! Stay there and I'll come down and show you where to put it!"

The two workmen exchanged glances. They had been working on the site of the John Rylands Library for nearly a decade and were now accustomed to the forthright views of Mrs Rylands. Enriqueta Rylands—Mrs Rylands, even to her friends—had commissioned a lavish library to commemorate her late husband, the wealthy Manchester industrialist John Rylands. The architect, Basil Champneys, and Mrs Rylands each had very clear ideas about how the library should look; unfortunately, their ideas were often rather different. When they did disagree, and they disagreed often, it was always Mrs Rylands who won the argument.

"Why didn't she just tell us where she wanted the statues this morning? It would have saved us all this work!" complained one workman.

"She's far too busy with those blinking windows," replied the other. "It was all planned out, but last week that strange man appeared. He did the impossible and convinced her to change her mind! Look, there he is."

They glanced upwards, and saw a figure dressed in a chestnut robe next to Mrs Rylands, carefully inspecting the stained glass windows.

text divider

Present day

"Just look at this place!" said Ellie, and she and Mike entered the John Rylands Library. "It feels like a castle or a mediaeval palace!"

They walked around the building, marvelling at the intricate stonework, the vaulted ceilings and the detailed panelling. Entering the library's main room, a huge vaulted aisle, more a cathedral of books than a library, stretched away in front of them. "I think I'm in Hogwarts!" said Mike, impressed.

Ellie grinned. "And if I'm not mistaken," she said, gazing at the large stained glass windows in the Reading Room, "that's what we've come to see. Come on!"

One window depicted famous theologians and the other depicted famous artists, writers and philosophers. "Who's that?" said Mike, pointing at one of the people represented in the arts window. "He's carrying a book called 'Logic'."

"It's Hegel," said Ellie. "He was a 19th century German philosopher. There must be a message hidden somewhere ..." she said, as she started to make notes.

Just as Ellie was putting pen to paper, two distinctive voices drifted up the stairs. "The twins! They must have found the message in the crypt. Hide!" said Mike, and they darted behind one of the statues.

As a third voice started speaking, Ellie peaked around the statue to see the twins standing beneath the stained glass window, talking to a figure dressed in coffee-coloured robes.

Your task:

Above is the stained glass window that Ellie and Mike saw in the library. It contains a coded message. Your task is to decipher this message. Once you have done that, submit your answer to the question below.

Question: What is the 17th word of the plaintext?
Your answer:

You can not submit your answer since the Competition has now closed.