Well, as the young Historian climbed the bridges incredibly steep path he fancied he could hear the conversations of the locals who loitered there long, long ago. Talking about fishing for eels, a staple in their medieval diet. Or perhaps they were grumbling about the harsh dues and tithes they owed to the Benedictine monks of the Abbey. Or maybe they stood upon the bridge eyeing with suspicion all the traders and other travellers who came to do business in the towns market and shops, or even the pilgrims who sought to know more of Guthlac’s struggles with many a bog dwelling demon.
Such was the young historians fancy that he did not see the two Antiquarians of note each blocking one of the other two paths leading to and from the bridge. One was tall and thin; the other broad of shoulder and both had big brains. So big that the young historian felt certain that he could hear their skulls creaking and groaning as they worked hard to keep all their accumulated wisdom within. He could tell straight way that they were of the legendary race of Ragged Ramblers said to haunt old ruins, They were mere shadows to most, camouflaged as they were by their earthy tweed colouring as they scrabbled amongst Romanesque arches and grave stones. He remembered the stories of those who had seen them or more correctly hints of them; strange lights that some said were the last rays of the setting sun reflecting off their stainless steel flasks or the flash of their well aimed cameras. Stories of course yet still the historian was uneasy for he had heard tell that so great was their intellect any man unfortunate enough to meet with a Ragged Rambler would feel inferior for the rest of his days. But these were stories and the young Historian checked his foolishness and stepped forward. “Beware”, said the one of the tweed clad giants, "for one path from this bridge leads to Crowland Abbey. But the other" says the other “leads to dark places, to marshy bogs", which to use the words of Guthlac’s chronicler in the ‘Guthlac Roll’, an illustrated history of the Saint's life and deeds, “Were haunted day and night but mostly by night by legions of devils with blubbery lips, fiery mouths, scaly faces, beetle heads, sharp long teeth, long chins, hoarse throats, black skins, humped shoulders, big bellies, burning loins, bandy legs, cloven hooves and long tails.” Terrible demons who persecuted all men as they did Guthlac and his first monks, “forever gibing and mewing at them, biting them with sharp teeth, switching them with their filthy tails, putting dirt in their meat and drink, nipping them by their nose, giving them cramp and rheums, shivering agues and burning fevers.”
Roundel depicting Guthlac's struggle with the Crowland demons
As Guthlac’s chronicler wrote, these boggarts and bogles as we might call them today were best avoided by anyone who valued his life, and so it was clear to the handsome young historian that he must choose his exit from the bridge with care. But which to take, for as anyone familiar with ancient riddles knows, the young historian standing at the fork in the bridge did not know which path led to Crowland and the other to his doom. And the Ragged Ramblers would be of little help, for although they knew which path to take, one of them always told the truth and the other always lied and he did not know which was which. And as anyone familiar with ancients riddles also knows, he could only ask them one question and one question only before he must choose his route. The question is: What one question asked of just one of the Tweed clad Ramblers guaranteed that the young historian was led onto the path to Crowland Abbey, regardless of which Rambler he asked?
Answers maybe given in the comments section of this post or sent directly to the Contributions Secretary, RSAR via his email or on a postcard to the 'Contributions Secretary C/O Norwich Antiquarians'. All entries to be marked ‘Trinity Bridge Riddle'