Conundrum - The Cadbury's Creme Egg Mystery was a book by Don Shaw, and illustrated by Nick Price, released in 1983.
The 12 paintings and accompanying verses contained clues to the whereabouts of 12 buried caskets. These caskets contained a 'certificate of ownership' with a telephone number which the finder called to claim an exquisite 22 carat gold egg created by Garrard, the crown jewellers.
Each egg had a retail value in excess of £10,000.
Somewhere in the British Isles,
Set apart by many miles,
Twelve caskets lie beneath the ground,
In each - a scroll with ribbon round.
Upon each scroll to you is told
That you shall own an egg of gold.
If you carefully read this book,
It will tell you where to look.
1. Professor Egghead
The clues in the story are to be found in the place names of Ampthill, Roxton, Potton and Langford. If these places are joined together by a line on an Ordnance Survey map they enclose an area to the west of Bedford. The Professor 'rested... underneath a big tree'. This suggests the casket lies in that position somewhere in this area. The road between Cardington village and the next village, called Old Warden forms a tree lined avenue (vis 'Et Ego in Arcadia') and as one journeys towards the latter village there is a farm gate on the right hand side similar to the one in the illustration. There are two trees on the opposite side of the road in the illustration as there are in reality. The second tree marks the Professor's destination as the extremity of the picture. The caskets lies at the foot of this tree.
The story is based on the legend of the Shepherd of Balmain. This rhymes with 'brand name' (see third verse). 'My first is a bogie', this is Humphrey Bogart. A 'key in his pocket' suggests the film Key Largo. in which he starred. The shepherd and film indicate Largo Law, a hillside in Fifeshire off the road between Upper Largo and St Andrews. The reference to 'gold mine' in verse two, and the 'Wizard', reinforce the legend of Largo Law which can be found in any Scottish reference library dealing in folk lore and legend. Even the 'cowherd' in verse four, his disappearance and the men who went out to bury him are all significant features in the original legend. The 'cock' that was 'kind not to crow' is another pointer to the story. The seventh verse indicates the farmyard beneath the hilltops. There is a farmyard on the side of Largo Law just above the roadside. 'Below that the hole in which the egg drops' could not be clearer. A 'U' turn road sign immediately beneath this farmyard does not exist. But ... if you take the right hand part of the sign away you are left with a road sign that indicates a right hand bend ahead. This sign is there and the casket is buried beneath it.
3. A Giant's Place
This story is based on the old legend concerning the origin of the Wrekin. But the giant lived in the 'Welsh mountains'. He used all his 'might and main ..... local mountain'. To the north of the A495 road between the village of Meifod and the village of Godor is a mountain called 'Ally-y-Main', a similar sounding name. Moreover the giant lived in 'a tall house with twin caves beneath'. Immediately under the mountain at the side of the A495 is a tall house with twin caves beneath. The clue to this is reinforced in the illustration that accompanies the story, exaggerated perhaps but not essentially similar to the house in reality. The casket cannot be buried in these 'caves' as they are private property. The nearest, most obvious place is opposite the dividing wall which separates the caves. The casket lies on the grass verge on the other side of the road, dead opposite the dividing wall.
4. The Prize
This story is based upon the old tale of the 'king' who sought the crown of England. Beaten and weary, he and his knights arrived at a point on a hillside south of Long Compton village in Warwickshire. Here he met a witch who told him that a simple test would show whether or not he would realise his ambition. Whilst the knights stayed in a field on the southern side of the hilltop road, he would cross over a field on the northern side. If, from this vantage point, he could see Long Compton then, indeed, King of England he would become. However, there was a penalty should he fail to espy the village. He and his knights would be turned into pillars of stone. The poem deals with this unfortunate man. A visit to the site now called 'The Rollright Stones' (marked on any large scale map) will show the King 'standing stone' to the north of a stone circle. This land is of historical and archaeological interest and the casket would not be found within the environs of the stones. A logical conclusion therefore would be to assume the casket to be buried on the grass verge immediately adjacent to the public road which separates the 'King' from his 'Knights'. If the treasure hunter looks at the accompanying illustration to the story he will see a framed picture of two Silver Birch trees. There are similar trees on the grass verge immediately to the north of the stone circle of 'Knights'. Moreover, the word 'tall' occurs twice in the penultimate verse of the poem. If one stands facing the tallest tree from the road-side and aligns it with the Tallest Stone then the strong likelihood is that the casket is buried on the rough grass verge in a continuation of that imaginary line. And this is, indeed the case!
5. Easter Monday
The traditional act of egg rolling on Easter Monday is very much a Lancashire custom. Beacon and Totridge Fells are both in Lancashire as are Darwen and Rawtenstall. The 'centre of the bounded universe' suggests that these places enclose the area in which the casket lies. How to find the centre? Draw lines connecting each of the four places. A line is drawn from Beacon Fell to Darwen, one from Darwen to Rawtenstall, one from Rawtenstall to Totridge, and, finally, one from Totridge to Beacon Fell forms an overall rectangle, the centre of which is ascertained by drawing lines from corner to opposite corner. Where the two lines cross, is the approximate centre. On an ordnance survey map you will find this place to be somewhere on the A59 road between Osbaldestone and Whalley. Now look at the illustration to the story. There is a green footpath signpost the type of which can be found at the side of any road in England. The nearest signpost on the A59 to the 'centre of the bounded universe' is the one stating a footpath to Ribchester. The casket is buried at the foot of the signpost.
6. W & B
The two giants, W and B, are well known figures of Yorkshire legend. As man and wife they are supposed to have built Pickering Castle. Having established this fact the first clue lies in the sixth verse of the poem. 'Inside a day' is a phrase which bears a similarity with 'All in day's work'. The latter is a translation of the Old English word 'Diate' The Diate Tower of the castle faces the main approach road to the building. Outside its wall there is a ditch and then a public footpath. Beyond the footpath is a rough grass verge. If the casket were to be buried in the castle environs clearly this would be the place as elsewhere would be contrary to the guidance given in the introduction to the Conundrum book. The treasure hunter will notice that there are arrow slits vertically aligned in the outside wall. Verse eight of the poem refers to the 'crack'. If one faces these 'cracks' and steps backwards on to the rough grass verge the 'line' will lead to the buried casket.
7. The Refuge
The story of the legendary bird, an Auk, is interwoven with that of Walter de la Auk, a deeply religious man who held illegal services in a natural ravine a few miles north of Leek in Staffordshire. One day the King's men marched on the ravine and arrested all those in attendance, including Lud himself. Hence 'Imprisoned by a hateful king'. There is another less obvious clue, in a preceding line of the same verse: "Dull is he'. This is Lud spelt backwards. The actual dimensions of the ravine are delineated in verse four: 'Nine hundred feet (long) by fifty high'. Verse six tells us that 'The church of refuge now denied' (by the King's men) a neighbouring church 'has open doors'. A close neighbouring church is the Methodist chapel situated on the A54 road between Buxton and Congleton. It is approximately one and a half miles north west of 'Lud's Church'. 'Some paces from its heavenly gate ..... golden riches will be found'. A visit to the chapel will establish that the 'heavenly gate', meaning the front door of the church faces a grass verge on the opposite side of the road. The verge is not wide and is the only place where the casket could be buried. The casket lies directly opposite the centre of the doorway.
8. A Child's Dream
William Blake, mystic and poet, is reported as going 'down to Sussex' where he 'heard the fairies'. But, in order to go down to Sussex the traveller must cross through Surrey. On the journey the traveller might come across a 'threefold image of the world' in the villages of Ifold, Dunsfold and Alfold. 'If all stood proud and I were left ...' A look at an Ordnance Survey map will show that Alfold stands at the apex of a triangle which has Ifold at its left corner and Dunsfold at its right. 'An equidistant pointed path would centre on out height ...' The height of the triangle can be measured by drawing a line between the apex (Alford) and the centre of the base line which joins the villages of Ifold and Dunsfold. This bisection of the base line is a point equidistant from both villages. Similarly the centre of the triangle is the nearest equidistant point from any of the three villages. It is the point at which a public road becomes private as indicated by a 'Private Road' sign on the left hand grass verge. The treasure Hunter will see this sign in the accompanying illustration to the story. The casket is buried at the foot of this sign.
9. John Tregeagle
The story of John Tregeagle is based on an old west country legend. The clues to the mystery of the hidden casket lie in the third and penultimate verses of the poem. The various place names can be joined together on the map so that Roche is at the apex of a triangle with Newton Abbot and Heath Cross on the base line. 'The Dice terrestrial and Marine' is really a red herring, referring to the game of 'Pitch and Toss' in the previous line, although finding the exact burial place is something of a gamble. To 'mark this place' what better than a pendulum? This controls the tick of Hell's machine. But a pendulum can only mark a place when it is at rest. It follows logically that the metronomic looking triangle would be more of a 'machine', with a pendulum dropped from Roche to the centre of the base line. There is a clue to Heath Cross in 'O mark this place with prayer'. Heath Cross, by its very name, has a religious connection and there is a Christian cross on the signpost in the centre of the hamlet. However, this is not the place of burial since the pendulum comes to rest somewhere on the lane between Heath Cross and Itton Hamlets. The exact place is seen in the book illustration. The stone pillars forming a gateway with a tree the right hand side can be seen in the lower centre part of the picture. The actual gateway looks very similar but is clearly on private land. The tree, however, is not on private land. Therefore, it is buried in front of this tree, on the grass verge.
10. The Burning Hand
This story is based upon the old north country legend of the robber who used a withered human hand as a 'sleeping token' in order to keep the occupants of an inn asleep whilst he carried out his nefarious act. This inn is situated on the road across Bowes Moor to the west of Barnard Castle. This road now the A66, joins the two communities of Brough and Bowes. A journey along the road will reveal the solitary inn at High Spital called the 'Coach and Horses'. Today, it is a roadside cafe, although the old inn sign still hangs outside. In the illustration which accompanies the story the treasure hunter will be faced with the open door of the inn. It is the very size of the doorway which suggests a clue as to the whereabouts of the casket. It's 'head on' visual impact is such that it suggests the casket is buried dead opposite the doorway. The only place where the casket might be buried is on the grass verge on the other side of the road immediately in line with the centre of the doorway.
11. Cuckoo Cuckoo
The story is written in West Country dialect and is based on the Cuckoos of Crewkerne folktale. Crewkerne is of course a town in Somerset. From here on all the clues necessary for solving the puzzle lie within the illustration. There are figures of Little Bo Peep, sheep, a huntsman riding and a sheep dog. These figures can be seen at the roadside at Misterton which is close to Crewkerne. They are contained in a roadside painted sign approximately three miles from Misterton railway station on the left hand side of the road. The casket was buried at the foot of the sign.
12. Island Mystery
'To solve this strangest mystery you start at Tynwald Hill'. The next instruction is to go eastwards 'into history where church and film are still'. The church is St Trinian's near Crosby. There were a number of films made about St Trinian's. 'Northeast go to Turf Mountain .... and climb the top .... two thousand thirty four'. This is the height of Snaefell mountain. '"More gold," you cry'. This is the village of Maughold in the north east of the island. The English pronunciation of the name is 'more gold'. A 'soldier beckons still'. The soldier is 'still'. He is dead. His grave lies in Maughold churchyard adjacent to the rear entrance gate opposite the back of the church. He 'beckons' in the way he lies. Behind the headstone is a wall which bounds the churchyard. Clearly the casket is not buried on sacred ground. It is a short step to deduce that it must be buried immediately behind the wall as near the grave as possible.
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