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Exclusive clues to the Hidden Tales treasure hunt around Cambridge


By Alex Spencer


More than 300 children came to the launch of city wide treasure hunt to find an artefact hidden somewhere in Cambridge.

The Hidden Tales event was at the Sedgwick Museum where children met the author Mark Wells, made badges and got their hands on the first copies of the book. Inside the pages are clues to the location to an object inscribed with a message written in secret code.

Then a group of ticket holders, including two children who won a ticket through the Cambridge Independent, were given a special tour around the museum with the first clues to the mystery whispered by ghostly voices played through headphones.

Former TV producer Sorrel May, who designed the project alongside Mark Wells, said: “It was such an emotional moment to see the book finally in children’s hands. It’s not too much to say it was a dream come true. I saw lots of children get a copy of the book and then sit down on the spot to start reading it and working out the clues. Mark and I wanted to inspire children to visit the museums in Cambridge and they certainly seemed very keen to get started.”

The Portal Opens - Hidden Tales Golden Ticket Adventure, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Jennie Adams 11 looks at some of the clues in the artwork used in the book. Picture: Keith Heppell. (13222664)
The Portal Opens - Hidden Tales Golden Ticket Adventure, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Jennie Adams 11 looks at some of the clues in the artwork used in the book. Picture: Keith Heppell. (13222664)

The Riddle of the White Sphinx is the first book in The Hidden Tales, described as the Da Vinci Code for children. Supported by the Cambridge Independent, it is the first in a new series of interactive children’s adventure stories that ask the reader to find clues hidden in Cambridge museums.

Each clue helps readers to decipher letters in a code created for the Hidden Tales by Cardozo Kindersley stone cutting workshop. A final message that must be deciphered is inscribed on an object, located somewhere in Cambridge. Children who crack the code can send the message to info@hiddentales.co.uk to receive a winners’ certificate.

Front cover of The Riddle of the White Sphinx
Front cover of The Riddle of the White Sphinx

Joshua Hughes, aged 8, who won one of the tickets to the special tour around the museum through our competition, said: “I think the idea is brilliant and I’m really looking forward to working out the clues.”

He was joined by the other winner Emily Bradley, 10, who said: “It will be great to do this over the summer holidays.”

Visit hiddentales.co.uk to find out more about the quest. The book, The Riddle of the White Sphinx, is available from Heffers bookshop.

Crack the code: we give readers four extra clues

The Hidden Tales team has shared four exclusive clues with the Cambridge Independent to help readers decipher the coded symbols that lead to Treasure Stone.

Four of the museums taking part in the adventure have set questions about one of the objects in their collection. The first letter of each answer is the letter that relates to the symbol beside the text. Be one of the first to crack the clues with this extra bit of help.

Museum of Classical archaeology

Boy with bird, plaster cast

Boy with bird in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (13249425)
Boy with bird in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (13249425)

This statue, in the Museum of Classical Archaeology, features a boy – his little protruding tummy makes him look like a toddler, even if he is taller than the average two-year-old – playing with his favourite pet. The original, from which this plaster cast is made, was found in 1789 in Rome and it is not the only one. In fact, several versions and copies of this statue have been found, meaning it was probably very famous and popular in Roman times. It’s not a type of pet you’re likely to have in your house, even if it was very popular type of pet in the ancient world. It’s too big for a duck, too small for a swan. You might find it on a farm.

Question: What animal is this?

Hidden Tales Alphabet - can you crack the clue?
Hidden Tales Alphabet - can you crack the clue?

Fitzwilliam Museum

Animal jug

Sculpture from the Fitzwilliam Museum (13279416)
Sculpture from the Fitzwilliam Museum (13279416)

This animal jug was made out of clay over 200 years ago in Staffordshire. His tubby body is covered in fur, which is made from shredded clay, and the details of his claws, collar and eyes are picked out in brown slip, which is a kind of runny clay. Why do you think he is wearing a chain in his nose? Sadly, performing animals of this kind were part of popular entertainment when this jug was made.

If you want to find him in the Fitzwilliam Museum he is in Gallery 26, on the bottom shelf of a cabinet about half way down on the left hand side. He is not on his own, but in a group, and a group of these animals is called a sloth or a sleuth.

Question: What type of animal is this? Image ©The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

hidden tales alphabet - can you crack the clue?
hidden tales alphabet - can you crack the clue?

Scott Polar Research Institute

Ship model

Scott Polar Research vessel (13279505)
Scott Polar Research vessel (13279505)

Sir Ernest Shackleton converted a 334 ton ship, which had previously been used to hunt whales and seals, and used it to transport his men to Antarctica on the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909. The Nimrod was so overloaded with supplies for the expedition that she could not carry enough coal to make the journey from New Zealand to the Antarctic, and so had to be towed to the edge of the pack ice.

This scale model of the ship was made by Wyndham B. Williams and is now on display in the Polar Museum.

Question: What is the ship called?

Image credit Scott Polar Research Institute

Hidden tales alphabet - can you crack the clue?
Hidden tales alphabet - can you crack the clue?


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