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.


Non-pigpen gravestones

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.



  • The inscription of Knut Bergman’s gravestone in Kikås, Sweden, is encrypted.



Pigpen gravestones

All other encrypted gravestones I know belong to Freemasonic graves and bear a pigpen inscription (pigpen ciphers were especially popular among Freemasons):



  • 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?

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Kommentare (9)

  1. #1 David Allen Wilson
    10. Mai 2018

    Here’s a larger picture:


    We’re missing details with the smaller picture.

  2. #2 David Allen Wilson
    10. Mai 2018

    Ah, I found the solution. I’ll post it in ROT-13:

    “Tybel gb Tbq ba uvtu”.

    Credit to Ernie Van Meter

  3. #3 Thomas
    10. Mai 2018

    The image you linked shows a gravestone in Dalkeith, not in Newcastle, https://www.midlothianadvertiser.co.uk/news/amateur-cracks-ciphers-1-2352504.
    Did you mean the grave of Walter Creighton Bell in Newcastle-upon-Tyne? http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/cypher_gravestone.html?

  4. #4 Klaus Schmeh
    10. Mai 2018

    @David Allan Wilson:
    A ROT13 decryptor is available here: http://www.rot13.com/

  5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
    10. Mai 2018

    >The image you linked shows a gravestone in Dalkeith
    You’re right. I changed the picture and added the Dalkeith gravestone to the list.

  6. #6 Thomas
    10. Mai 2018

    So, now it is the right picture of W . C. Bell’s gravestone. Maybe you could send an e- mail to bereavementservices@newcastle.gov.uk and ask if they know the location (see https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/communities-and-neighbourhoods/births-deaths-and-marriages/deaths-funerals-and-cremations/cemeteries-in-newcastle).

  7. #7 Gerry and Andrea
    10. Mai 2018

    Carsten Sonderup solved the Henry Harrison gravestone cipher first: http://ciphermysteries.com/2016/03/31/cryptic-masonic-gravestones
    He used the masonic cypher „Another variety – English“ from http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/cyphers.html

  8. #8 Karsten
    10. Mai 2018

    @Klaus #4: If one of your readers can’t decrypt ROT13 by hand, he doesn’t deserve to know the solution … 😉

  9. #9 Dampier
    10. Mai 2018

    First I tried to solve this only with pen and paper, and what I learned on Klaus’ blog, but I failed (of course – this one’s too tricky).

    Later I tried to reconstruct the grid with the clear text solution posted in #2 (thanks @David Allen Wilson). And I found, that H, I and R may form a cross saying “HIRAM” (a central character of freemasonry).

    And the cypher „Another variety – English“ (Thanks @Gerry and Andrea) does show exactly that cross! Cool.

    The rest of the letters seem to have an arbitrary order, or can someone find out a system?