As is expected of any university, especially one so old, U. of Cambridge has in its history many myths and legends. Among these the antics of the night climbers rank highly. The night climbers simply refers to a group of U. of Cambridge students (there was also a sect at Oxford) who climbed to the top of college and public buildings at night. This was dangerous and prohibited but a challenge some students undertook. This practice began over a century ago and continues today.
Climbing buildings in Cambridge is difficult, and students often like to show off their accomplishments by leaving objects at the pinnacle of their climbs. In this tradition, one student decided to climb to the top of King’s College Chapel, and upon reaching the top he placed an orange traffic cone on one of the spires. When the authorities found out, they were furious and began the expensive task of erecting scaffolding on the side of the chapel in order to remove the cone. They did not complete this project in the course of one day, however, so overnight that same student climbed to the top and moved the cone to a spire on the opposite side of the building.
This further infuriated the powers that be, so instead of paying for and erecting scaffolding on the other side of the Chapel, they found a proficient gunman to shoot the cone down. This worked. The night climber was not pleased, though, and took this as a challenge. He again ascended the chapel, this time with a British flag. This the authorities would not shoot down and were forced to go back to the scaffolding. Yet again the scaffolding took longer than a day to erect. During the night, the student climbed to the top again and removed the flag.