Encrypted gravestones are rare, and they have a morbid charm. Here is one located in a town between Liverpool and Manchester. Can you decipher its encrypted inscription?
Have you ever thought about what you will leave behind when you die? If it shall be something very extraordinary, you should consider a gravestone with an encrypted or hidden message. So far, I know only about 20 people whose graves are outfitted with a gravestone of this kind. Considering that there are dozens if millions of graves in the world, a cryptographic or steganographic gravestone can without a doubt be regarded as something very special.
In the following, I am going to list all the encrypted gravestones I am aware of. Almost all of them are listed in the Cryptologic Travel Guide.
Let’s start with the encrypted gravestones that do not bear a pigpen cryptogram:
- The famous Fuck-You gravestone, located in Montreal, Canada, has an inscription with a hidden message.
- In Hollywood, there is a similar steganographic grave stone.
- The gravestone of William and Elizebeth Friedman in Washington, DC, bears a hidden message, too.
- The inscription of Knut Bergman’s gravestone in Kikås, Sweden, is encrypted.
- Herzog Rudolf IV (+1365), who is buried in Vienna, seems to be the only aristocrat, whose gravestone inscription is encrypted.
- The gravestone of Henrietta Bean (+1865) and Susanna Bean (+1867) in Wellesley, Canada, bears a crypto puzzle.
- John Renie’s grave in Monmouth, Wales, features a crypto puzzle gravestone, too.
- James Burns’ encrypted gravestone is located in Belfast.
All other encrypted gravestones I know belong to Freemasonic graves and bear a pigpen inscription (pigpen ciphers were especially popular among Freemasons):
- The encrypted gravestone of James Lacey (+1796) is located in New York City, next to the World Trade Center.
- The gravestone of James Leeson (+1794) is located in the vicinity of the World Trade Center in New York City, too.
- The gravestone of Thomas Brierley (+1785) is located near Manchester, UK.
- The encrypted gravestone of John Farmer Dakin is located in the Manchester area, too.
- The gravestone of Eliza Biehl (+1915), buried in Fulton, Ohio, is encrypted.
- From Nick Pelling’s website I learned about an encrypted gravestone in Dalkeith, Scotland.
- There’s also a pigpen gravestone in Newcastle, UK (see below).
- Henry Harrison’s encrypted gravestone in Warrington (between Liverpool and Manchester, UK) is the third one I know in the Manchester area.
There are two questions I would like to ask my readers about these encrypted gravestones. First, I still don’t know the exact location of the gravestone in Newcastle (for copyright reasons I can’t publish a picture here; check here to see one). Can a reader tell me, on which cemetery this grave can be found?
Second, can you break the inscription on Henry Harrison’s gravestone? Again, I don’t have a photograph of it I can use, but there’s one available here. Here’s my transcritption of the inscription (I’m not sure if it is correct):
This is an unusual pigpen encryption, as the alphabet includes a letter that looks like an X. I have never seen this before. Anyway, this cryptogram should be solvable, and it certainly has been deciphered before. If you know the solution, please let me know.
Further reading: Who can decipher this encrypted inscription on a cigaret case?