Historians Try to Decipher Centuries-Old Mystery Sword Inscription

The steel sword has an inscription made from gold wire.

— -- What does +NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+ mean?

That’s what historians at the British Museum are trying to find out.

A steel sword dating back to medieval times has those letters inscribed on its side in gold wire and nobody has been able to decipher it since the sword was found in July 1825, according to the museum, which loaned the artifact to the British Library recently for its Magna Carta commemoration.

Since the library opened up the public comments section on Aug. 3 on a blog post about the sword, suggestions have poured in.

The 38-inch long sword weighs in at two pounds 10 ounces and was probably owned by a wealthy individual, museum officials said. The likely German-manufactured blade is thin, yet strong, and “if struck with sufficient force, it could easily have sliced a man’s head in two,” according to the museum.

As for the mystery inscription, the museum highlighted one leading theory from Marc van Hasselt, a graduate student of medieval studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Van Hasselt said he thinks the blade’s inscription has religious ties that are written in Latin.

“This makes sense in the context of 13th-century Europe, as Latin was the international language of choice (like English is today),” Van Hasselt wrote in the library's blog post, noting that be based his opinion on a similar inscription style on a sword found in the Netherlands and another that is currently in Berlin. Germany.

The British Library got over 175 comments offering ideas to decipher the letters before the comment section was closed, a spokeswoman told ABC News today.

"Due to the phenomenal range of suggestions, it’s unlikely that we will be able to decipher the mysterious inscription before 'Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy' closes on 1 September," the library said in a statement.

The sword is on display in the "Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy" exhibition at the British Library, alongside Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence and an original copy of the Bill of Rights.