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Dutch Journey, 26 september 2001

Geschreven door    Jeroen Stap

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9 september 2001, the first clue
Like any Stone-owner knows there have been clues buried all over the world. Since October 2000 this has also been the case in Holland, however we had to wait until 9 September 2001 for the clues to come online. At that day the first clue was displayed at Spelmagazijn. On the front page a picture can be seen of a group of men in oldfashioned uniforms. One of them has a hat with white feathers. In front of them is a little girl in a white dress. Laid over this picture is a red notched line with on several places thick points and thin lines. Searching in the text and infopage offered some more information. Besides the picture on the frontpage there's also a picture of the same man with the feathers firing a cannon. That picture was supposed to be the starting shot for the search. More striking were the photographer and sound technician on the photo, revealing that these photo's are much younger than expected. To make life a little easier for the searchers, there was also a picture of the exact spot of the buried clue. This first picture was really close, but regularly extra photo's would be placed showing more of the surroundings. The picture showed an informationsign with some fences, and something resembling a big rock. The buried clue was buried next to the informationsign.

this is what it was all about

Starting points
The search could begin. Many questions popped up in my mind. Who are those people? What's the cannon got to do with it? When was that picture taken? What does the red line depict? What is the rock in the back? What text is on the sign? The pictures were too fuzzy to read any texts. Therefore I tried to search for connections. First I used Google and Altavista to search for the soldiers and girl, however the thousands of resulting pages didn't tell me much. The same goes for searches on cannon, photographer, informationsign, etc. The uniforms seemed to be old, so I searched for pictures of them on the site of the armymuseum. An exact match wasn't found, but I supposed they were used in the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps in World War I. Still I didn't make much progress.

the picture on the stone

The red line seemed to be most important, but how to search for something like that? What does it depict? Is it a country? Is it a provence? A sea? A City? And what about the red lines and dots. Might it be a busroute or something like that? Many more questions than answers. I got stuck on this point too. Again I looked extensively at the informationsign. Why is this sign placed near that stone? The only logical explanation I could come up with was that it might be a dolmen. Search engines lead me to Dolmen in Holland a site of Hans Meijer. This site contains photographs of any Dolmen in Holland. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a picture with this informationsign. Apparently this idea was wrong also.

At that time I was stuck with the puzzle, allthough I checked regularly to see if I overlooked something. Sometimes an idea popped up, could it be...? Again and again I was wrong. Without a huge breakthrough I had to wait for the second clue.

19 September 2001, the second clue
How much I hoped the second clue would show me the true nature of the big rock, it simply didn't. The second picture was still the informationsign, however you could now also see a tree standing besides it. The rock was still just a rock. A possibly important detail was the asphalt road with the white line. Apparently the sign was standing right besides a normal road. Although the picture seemed to be giving more information, it didn't help for searching the internet. Gradually it became clear that the current search-efforts would not be enough. To make some progress it must be clear who those people are and what the red line depicts. The colorprint I made wasn't very sharp, but good enough to show to other people. My colleagues didn't recognize the persons however, neither were they enlightened by the other clues. Someone suggests that the uniforms may link to the French period and the Pyramid of Austerlitz. Several interesting links on this topic, but no specialised site or picture could be found. Apparently the pyramid was built around 1806 by the French in the woods near Zeist. The theme would fit perfectly in The Stone's collection, but there was no absolute clue to assume this was the solution to the puzzle.

the red line can be recognized clearly

The breakthrough
Monique started to help searcheing more actively, she had more luck that night. She had taken the printed picture to her choir, one of the other singers recognized the main figure. He appeared to be Frank the Grave, our Minister of Defense. As soon as Monique got home we checked this information and on the website of the ministry of defense we found his C.V. with his picture quickly. This lightened our quest, because we now had a name to work with. Most of our searchentries pointed to press announcements from the ministry of defense. After reading almost all of them I didn't have a better idea to solve this puzzle, I only learned that it's a busy job being minister. The real breakthrough happened when I used Google to search for "kanonschot", "De Grave" en "minister". This lead me to the annual report 2000 of 'Stichting Herstelling'. It was quite a big pdf-document and it took some time before it appeared on my screen. Impatiently I had been clicking pagedown, and went to the kitchen to get a drink. On returning I almost dropped my drink, because on my screen was a map with the red line shown very obviously. This foundation is busy with reparations to the position of Amsterdam, a defense position which was built around Amsterdam in the beginning of the 20th century. Searching on their site I soon felt the adrenaline when I recovered the original photo. Reading the context I learned that the picture was taken during the openingceremony of the 'Fort aan de Drecht' in Uithoorn. I called for Monique immediately. Combining the facts we concluded that the informationsign had to be near this fort. Since we figured this out, we imagined that others would probably also have this information, or would get it soon enough. It was thursdaynight and the following weekend we already had appointments and we would not be able to go visit the fort. We live rather close to Uithoorn, so despite of the time we decided to go to the fort immediately.

the old fort is now a restaurant

The disappointment
It was half an hour past 12 in the night when we stepped into our car. Photocamera, shovel, tape-measure, we had it all. With our hearts pounding we arrived at the fort. The gate was locked at this time of the night, but it should't matter, the informationsign should be next to the road. At the maingate we couldn't find anything, there was an informationsign, but totally different from the one on the photo. Perhaps it's on the other sied, so we decided to walk around the fort. Our feelings of victory turned to feelings of doubt when we acknowledged the fact that the sign was nowhere to be found. When we returned to our car we avaluated the flaws in our reasoning. The text in the info-page mentioned starting-shot, possibly this fort was the starting point in the total position. If that were true, the final destination would be one of the adjacent forts. It was late already, so a couple of minutes more wouldn't matter anymore. When we arrived at the fort of Uithoorn, nothing was there. The next fort in line was the fort near De Kwakel. Although the informationsign had the same characteristics, the surroundings were very different. We started to see that our theory was wrong at some point. It could very well be any fort in the position of Amsterdam. We decided to go home, and meanwhile visit the forts which were on our way home. When Kudelstaart and Aalsmeer were disappointments also, we went home tired and sad. An intruiging adventure, in the middle of the night, all for nothing. Looking back now, we were so close...

this is where we should have been

New start
As said before, we were gone for the weekend. When we got home again, we studied all clues again. Although we were very sure to be correct about the Position of Amsterdam, we couldn't find any sign specifying where exactly it should be. Simply visiting all places was not an option, because it was too large. It became very clear to us that we had to know more about the exact location, the first two photo's could have been made anywhere. I did visit two more forts on my way back from work on Monday and Tuesday, but without any luck. So, we waited for the third photo.

looking back all is simple

25 September 2001, the third clue and the unravelling
We were very much surprised to find out that the third clue was online that same Tuesday night. This picture clearly showed that it was not a fort we should look for, but some kind of lock. Now it was much easier to find the location. After reading information on the previously found site on the Position of Amsterdam, we found a picture of such a lock being part of Linie Kudelstaart-Uithoorn. The picture could very well be the place, but it was seen from the other side. The previous attempt was still in our memory, so we wanted to be sure first. Searching for 'Kudelstaart' (=village) and 'damsluis' (=lock) we found a clear photo at province of Noord-Holland. This should be the place, right between Kudelstaart and Uithoorn. Again it is almost midnight, and it is foggy, but we feel very sure again. We hope we'll be able to find our 'treasure' despite of the weather. It's about 0:25 when we arrive in De Kwakel, a small village in between Kudelstaart en Uithoorn. Just to be sure we first check the villagemap, and within minutes we have reached the lock. Again we feel the adrenaline in our body. The dark night and the fog giving it a special touch. We make jokes about what people would think of us digging in the dirt in the middle of the night... Looking near the sign there are no indications that something has been buried here. Using a flashlight I carefully push the shovel into the ground. After a few attempts we see a piece of plastic. This must be it! Quickly we take it out of the ground, and inside the car we open the wrapping. Inside the plastic bag there's a piece of leather and a shard of stone. On the front a part of a picture can be seen, on the back a small a password for having found the stone. We hurry back home, to get a good look at it. Despite having been underground for a year the stone and it's picture seem to be intact. Contrary to the Stone buried in the UK there has been only minor influence to the textmessage.

at half past 12 at night the stone had been found

Feeling victorious (again) we have finished the Dutch Journey. Finally we can get some sleep again.

Jeroen en Monique Stap

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Spelmagazijnby Ronald Hoekstra - 2006

Met dank aan Jeroen voor het verslag en de afbeeldingen