An Irvine historian may have stumbled upon the solution to a centuries-old puzzle that has confounded the world's greatest cryptographers.

The Shugsborough inscription is a carved sequence of letters - O U O S V A V V - in the surface of the 18th-century 'Shepherd's Monument' in the grounds of Shugsborough Hall in Staffordshire, England.

Josiah Wedgwood, Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens are all said to have attempted to solve the enigma and failed, while most modern theories draw connections between the monument's creator, Thomas Anson, the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail.

But regular contributor to the Times AJ Morton claims to have "accidentally stumbled" upon a much simpler solution.

See the Times for the full story.