The Man Behind the Masquerade

by Stephen Hobley on December 4, 2009

When I was 9 years old Kit Williams published a book called Masquerade.

It was a children’s story about the Moon’s attempt to give the Sun a gift. She entrusts it to a hare with the instructions to deliver it for her, as she was unable to present it herself. Somewhere along the way the hare loses the gift – and it’s up to the reader to find it.

Literally.

Prior to the book being released, Kit crafted the jeweled “Hare-Bell” out of 18-carat gold and buried it somewhere in Britain. The clues to the location of the buried treasure were hidden within the 15 paintings used to illustrate the book.

What was brilliant about this was that it really was buried – not hidden in the publisher’s safe, but actually buried in Britain under real dirt. If you solved it, you just had to mail in the solution to the publishers – then pack your spade and jump in the car to go get it.

Recently the BBC made a documentary on Kit Williams (“The Man Behind the Masquerade”) 30 years after the hunt for the golden hare. I urge you to watch it – Williams really is a modern day Leonardo DaVinci. He produces beautiful paintings, wonderful clocks, south-facing chariots (even Leonardo struggled with that one), mazes, and much more incredible stuff…

A real inspiration. I really need to “up my game” as they say – he’s *way* ahead of me in the “making cool stuff for no apparent reason” stakes.


There are plenty of websites that give the solution to the puzzle, but here’s the executive 1-page summary:

Each painting had a border with letters around it, and also contained animals and humans. Tracing a line from the eyes of each of them, through their longest fingers/fins/toes and paws would point you to letters in the border. Each painting gave one or two words hidden in this way:

CATHERINES
LONG FINGER
OVER
SHADOWS
EARTH

BURIED
YELLOW

AMULET
MIDDAY
POINTS
THE
HOUR
IN
LIGHT OF EQUINOX
LOOK YOU

And the initials spell CLOSE BY AMPTHILL.

Which is exactly where it was.

Satellite picture

Genius.

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