As a young lad growing up obsessed with the Indiana Jones films (the three good ones), I assumed the world was just brimming with undiscovered treasures and deadly tribesmen speaking in the long-forgotten tongues of the Old Ones. While there might only be a hint of truth left to the latter (there are undiscovered peoples and languages in some parts of the world), archaeologists are still sometimes able to uncover true mysteries of the past from time to time.
This week, historians working with a collection of antiques and curios in London’s Lincoln’s Cathedral came across a mysterious object in their collections that they are still struggling to explain. The object is a “Clock Jack” – a decorative human figure which can be seen adorning some old clocks. What’s odd about this clock jack, however, is the fact that it is accompanied by a sketch of it attached to a clock – a sketch covered in what appear to be strange, cryptic symbols which elude attempts to decipher them.
The Clock Jack is an amazing discovery, allowing us, the future generation, a glimpse into a different time. There was an air of mystery around the Clock Jack when we first discovered it – there was no identification and no one had any idea what it was.
That’s how the Lincoln Cathedral’s collections and engagement officer Fern Dawson described the discovery of this curious object. The Clock Jack is a wooden knight standing about three feet tall whose features have been rubbed off and obscured over time. It’s believed the knight is around 400 years old, but little is known for sure about the figure. A few old sketches were found in the online archives in Oxford’s Bodleian Library which reference a clock in the Lincoln Cathedral and feature knights, those it’s unknown if these are of the same clock for which the knight was carved.
In one of these sketches, a series of mysterious symbols is scrawled across the top just above the images of the clock. Researchers believe they are a form of shorthand, but have no idea what they might mean – if anything. Sometimes doodles are just doodles. Other times, though, those doodles point you to where the treasure is and tell you how to spell the real name of God. Could this Clock Jack be hiding something?