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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 6 of the Tale of The Mediæval Manuscript.

1956, a road outside London

It was a dark September night, but Michael Ventris was in a buoyant mood. He had completed deciphering Linear B, proving that it was indeed a very early form of Greek, and his book 'Documents in Mycenaean Greek' was soon to be published. He was now ready to start his next great challenge: working on the mediaeval manuscript that Alan Turing and his student Barquith had finally discovered hidden within the John Rylands Library.

Ventris thought back to how hard it had been to recover the manuscript. They had come some close so many times, always to be thwarted at the last moment. In the end, Turing had had to pull strings with the Senior Librarian, promising that if the Library ever got into financial difficulties then he would ensure that the University would secure its future. After this intervention, they had been granted private access to the Library's archives and had finally located the manuscript, which now lay on the passenger seat of Ventris' car.

Driving home, he was deep in thought about how best to approach the work. He suspected there was a connection to the de Gresle family and wondered if that was a place to start. As his car rounded the next sharp corner, he was lost in thought and failed to see the shadowy robed figure in the road until it was too late. Ventris swerved but lost control of his car, crashing into a van parked at the side of the road.

The robed figure walked over to the car. Opening the door, he confirmed that Ventris had no pulse, then took the manuscript and melted into the night.

text divider

Present day

"Now we've got rid of the twins for a while, let's find the mediaeval manuscript!" said Ellie, as she and Mike inspected all of the display cases in the reading room.

Inside one of the cases was a very old book, 'Mr William Shakespeare's Comedies Histories and Tragedies'. "That must be it!" exclaimed Mike.

"I'm not so sure," said Ellie. "This is the First Folio. The display talks about the first to fourth folio. There doesn't appear to be a Fifth Folio," Ellie said. "Also, the mediaeval manuscript can't be hidden inside this book. It's priceless and I'm sure even trying to open the case would set the alarm off. Either the mysterious Brother Aldred wants us to get arrested, or 'The Fifth Folio' means something else."

"Perhaps it's hidden somewhere nearby?" said Mike.

"Could be. Now where would I hide something in plain sight?" mused Ellie, looking around the room. Each wall of the room was covered in mahogany bookcases, each shelf lined with old books of many shapes and sizes. "Any book around fifteen inches high is sometimes called a folio," she said, as she glanced up to one row of particularly nondescript books of that height on one of the bookcases.

Ellie reached up and took the fifth book from the shelf. "It's fake!" she exclaimed, as she opened the book to see that the inside was hollow, and contained a carefully rolled, and very old, piece of parchment.

"We've found it!" said Mike. As they pored over the manuscript, they didn't see the shadow of a dark-robed figure accompanied by two smaller shadows extend across the room as three figures moved onto the balcony above Mike and Ellie.

Your task:

Your task: Above is the mediaeval manuscript. You should decipher the message. One you have done that, submit your answer to the question below. Once you have done that, submit your answer to the question below.

Question: What is the 55th word of the plaintext? (Caution: be careful when counting the words!)
Your answer:

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