Gravestones bearing an encrypted or hidden message are rare, and they have a morbid charm. On Reddit, I have found one I hadn’t known before. I have no idea where it is located and what the inscription means.
If you want to leave something special behind after your death, you should consider a gravestone with an encrypted or hidden message. Only 17 of these are known to me, even after years of research. Considering that there are dozens of millions of graves in the world, a cryptographic or steganographic note on a gravestone can without a doubt be regarded as something very unusual.
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.
Most of the encrypted gravestones I know stand on 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) can be found near Manchester, UK.
- The encrypted gravestone of John Farmer Dakin is located in the Manchester area, too.
- Henry Harrison’s encrypted gravestone in Warrington (between Liverpool and Manchester, UK) is the third one I know in the Manchester area. I don’t have a photograph of it I can use, but there’s one available here.
- 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. Again, I can’t publish a picture of it for copyright reasons; check here to see one.
I still don’t know the exact location of the gravestone in Newcastle. Can a reader tell me, on which cemetery this grave can be found?
There are also encrypted gravestones that do not bear a pigpen cryptogram:
- 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.
Finally, I know of three gravestones that bear a hidden message:
- 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.
Another cryptic gravestone
When I recently browsed through the /r/codes group on Reddit (always a good source for interesting cryptograms), I found another encrypted gravestone. Here it is:
This picture was published by a user named maximumice. He wrote:
This is on one side of a modern gravestone in a graveyard near my home. It was knocked over in a recent storm. The user who found this did not flip it to see the reverse. Any ideas what the inscription could mean?
I wish I could tell you more about this crypto mystery, but I don’t have any information about it. Can a reader find out where this gravestone is located and to whose grave it belongs? And, most of all, can somebody say what these letters mean? Of course, they do not necessarily represent an encrypted text, but I assume that these letter sequences have a meaning.
Further reading: Who can decipher this encrypted inscription on a cigaret case?