Shugborough Decoding

Since the construction of Shepherd's Monument circa mid-18th century, the Shugborough Inscription of D-OUOSVAVV-M underneath the carved relief at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, England, has puzzled the best cryptologists and amateur decoders. These theorists have proposed that the inscription is a Biblical message, acronyms for Latin phrases, initials for the residence of the Hall, instructions to the Holy Grail, engraved ancient love note, affiliated to the Knights Templar, connected to Oak Island mystery of a possible treasure (that is now the Curse of Oak Island), or considered a complete hoax to flame the fires of overactive imaginations. However, none of them are close to the message I found in this one-page Shugborough Decoding. I don't make the rules in my decodings; all I do is discover them.

Shugborough_shepherds_monumentShepherd's Monument Inscription of D-OUOSVAVV-M is located underneath the carved relief. Photograph is attributed to Edward Wood (aka. Elephantwood) on Wikipedia.

According to the General Manager of Shugborough, Richard Kemp, Bletchley Park experts are saying it's not just the words, it's the juxtaposition of the words, it's the angle of the shepherd's staffs, it's the surroundings, it's the totality of the site.

Bletchley Park experts are partially right. As will be explained during the decoding, it's the juxtaposition of the words that they haven't taken in account for and is the way the shepherds are holding their staffs, but to start out with, it's more the position of two of the shepherds' hands and arms on the relief to find the backwards message to start out the decoding. Then the Shugborough Inscription of D-OUOSVAVV-M is the next clue to finish decoding this simple one-line message. The Shugborough relief shown below is a reverse image of Nicolas Poussin's second version of The Shepherds of Arcadia.Shugborough_arcadia

Thomas Anson, an esteemed member of the Great Britain Parliament of Litchfield from 1747-1770, commissioned Flemish sculptor Peter Scheemakers to carve the relief. Scheemakers' artwork was paid for by Thomas' brother Admiral George Anson.Nicolas_Poussin_-_Et_in_Arcadia_ego_(deuxième_version)[1]

Nicolas Poussin’s painting Les bergers d'Arcadie or The Shepherds of Arcadia, also known as Et In Arcadia Ego from the inscription on the tomb, shows shepherds pointing at the inscription; it's translation from Latin into English is loosely, "Even in Arcadia, there am I." Some contend the saying is a code for those passing along secret doctrines for societies such as Pythagorean, Gnostic, Cabalistic, and Hermetic beliefs. The reason the Shugborough Inscription has never been translated is because the word EGO must be translated with the D-OUSVAVV-M cipher. EGO is Latin for the pronoun I, as in me, myself, and I.

One striking deviation from Poussin’s original painting (other than the reverse imaging) is the appearance of a sarcophagus on top of the tomb. Let’s first analyze the word ARCADIA. ARCA is the Greek word for chest or coffer (akin to coffin), which could partly explain the appearance of the sarcophagus. The Greek suffix of the word ARCA-DIA is “DIA” for Goddess. Dia is also a Greek preposition meaning through, between, across, by or passing through and is akin to dýo or di meaning two. In fact, the English word duo comes from the Greek word dýo. So far the messages from the word ARCADIA are chest, goddess, through/across, and two. The below photograph is attributed to Edward Wood (aka. Elephantwood) on Wikipedia.Shugborough_fingers_pointing_to_letters_(close-up)[1]

Above is a blow-up of the hands surrounding the Shepherd’s Monument tomb. The letters showing to the left of the kneeling man’s thumb partially over the R is ET IN A or ETINA with EGO visible underneath it. Because the stone relief is a reverse image from the original painting, the code writer wants you to read the ETINA inscription backwards for the name ANITE, which comes from the word Cana-ANITE; the name means grace or favor. The mysterious name ANITE will be translated from the D-OUOSVAVV-M inscription seen below.


I've put dashes after the first letter D and before the last letter M of the D-OUOSVAVV-M cipher because they are offset below the inner core of the eight (8) letters of OUOSVAVV of the code; therefore the code writer is indicating the first key is the number eight (8). The cipher D-OUOSVAVV-M has ten (10) letters; therefore, the second key is the number ten (10). The first word in the code is DUO for two (for one tomb and one sarcophagus), so I have to move the U in DOU back one (1) for DUO; therefore the number one (1) is the third key. Actually, every U found will be moved one (1) backward in the alphabet in this decoding to a T. The eight (8) and ten (10) key numbers represent moving either backwards or forwards on the alphabet 8 or 10 letters. For example, a forward count of eight (8) from the letter A without including the original letter in the count is BCDEFGHI for the letter I.

Let’s translate the rest of D-OUOSVAVV-M or OSVAVVM, since we've already found the word DUO. At this point we're looking for the name ANITTE and will readjust the extra T later. For now, I’ll ignore the O and just use SVAVVM for the translation by going eight (8) backwards or forwards across the alphabet for the name ANITTE. From the letter S when you count eight (8) letters forward, then you get to Z (the seventh), and the A is the eighth letter (you warp around when you get to the end of the alphabet). I’ll cut to the chase and do the rest of the code quickly (see below). From the V if you count eight (8) back on the alphabet (V to UTSRQPON), it's comes to an N. If you count eight (8) forward from the A, it's an I. The V V is a W because historically it is considered double U, so each U is moved back one (1) for TT (as you moved the U back one for DUO). From the M, you count eight (8) back for an E. This spells ANITTE. So I have so far decoded DUO O ANITTE. The top tier on the below graphic shows the movements backwards or forwards of eight (8), the second tier shows the movements of one (1) back for double Us and the remaining information shows the decoding.Shug1

Next, I will translate EGO. I’m looking for the name MOTT. From the E, you count forward eight (8) for an M. From the G, you count forward eight (8) for an O. From the O, you count forward eight (8) for a W. Ah but remember, the W is considered double Us. We saw the VV or W in the Oak Island Decoding in the Whodunit page to find the code writer's name of Uilliam Uallas, or in English William Wallace (aka. Braveheart), and mirror image played an important role in decoding his name. In codes, you will commonly see code writers playing with the letters U, V or W in the alphabet. In the olden days, the letter V was also considered a U. Now the rule still stands for you to count one (1) back from two Us for another TT for the name MOTT:Shug2

If you study the relief in detail, it appears the two staffs in the two opposing shepherds' arms in front of the tomb are forming the letter V, the two staffs leaning against the shepherd on the right appear to be displaying the letters TT with the top of the Ts outlined by his shoulders and one arm, and the position of most of the hands, arms, and legs of all four people on the relief are forming a U or V-shape.Shugborough_arcadia

Symbolically these letters could means all kinds of things: the womb, V for a satanic cult or the cue sign of a secret society but trying to read too much into the code doesn't help to decipher the actual front-end message. There's one other difference that stands out between the painting and relief. In Poussin’s painting, eleven (11) hands and feet are visible or partially visible, and on the monument, there are only ten (10); this correlates with the number ten (10) key.

The code now says DUO O ANITTE MOTT. To finish the translation, you need to move one T of  the TTs back eight (8) and the other ten (10) on this partially deciphered code line. Therefore, the first T in MOTT needs to go back ten (10) letter places while including the T in the count to place it in front of the A, changing it from ANITTE to TANITTE.Shugg3

The code now says DUO O TANITTE MOT. Next, you need to move the last T of ANITTE back eight (8) letter places while including the T in the count and place it in front of the lone O.Shug4

The final translation of the code is: DUO TO TANITE (&) MOT

Another clue for the T of Tanite is in the close up of the tomb below. The shepherd on the left is forming a T with his staff, arm and hand that are precisely framing the backwards ETINA or ANITE. The below photograph is attributed to Edward Wood (aka. Elephantwood) on Wikipedia.Shugborough_fingers_pointing_to_letters_(close-up)[1]

The question is who are Tanite and Mot? Tanit, or as they refer to her in what I consider the diminutive form Tanite, was a Phoenician lunar goddess of fertility and war, and Mot, that is also spelled Mott, was one of their god’s of death. The Phoenicians are considered direct descendants of the original Canaanites.

As mentioned earlier, the name Anite is from the word Cana-ANITE. Tanit is a Canaanite goddess with many different names Anat, Tinnit, Tannou, Anath, Anāt‘nt, Anath, Antit, Anit, Anti, Anant, Ashtart, Ashtoret, Ashtarot, and an associated goddess Asherah (name meaning wreath), who was considered the wife of El, the creator of humanity and Father-God of the Canaanites. Could the name Asherah represent the wreaths found on top of the façade of the Monument and a wreath that appears to be on the end of the sarcophagus? The Greeks associated Tanit with Moon Goddess Astarte, the Semitic Goddess Ishtar and Aṯtart or Athtart for Aphrodite as well as with Demeter and Artemis. The Romans identified her with Juno, Lucina, Magna Mater, Rhea, and Cybele. Her Egyptian counterpart was the War Goddess Neith. However, the two most common names for this Carthaginian Goddess are Tanit and Anat of Ugaritic (Syrian area origin), which was wife-sister of Ba’al and the consumer of blood and flesh. This female deity appears to be the one referenced in the Shugborough Inscription from the suffix for the word ARCA-DIA or Goddess. Tanit was purportedly a Punic/Phoenician virginal Mother Goddess and protector of Carthage that represented resurrection, good fortune, fertility, war, and the celestial sky. So why is the name Tanite instead of Tanit? The suffix –ite means a person that comes from a place or tribe, a follower, member or supporter of a group, or an Israelite. Latin, Greek, and French use this suffix to mean being connected to or belonging to. Tanite’s consort was the chief God of Carthage Ba’al Hammond (the bearded older man) of the sky, fertility and vegetation and perhaps one and the same Ba’al Qarnain (Lord of Two Horns), considered El. He was also identified as Dagon, God of grain and fertility and with the Egyptian God Set of desert, disorder, and violence.

Legends abound that Mot is the son of the Canaanite Father-God El. El is associated with the Titan Cronus, the Roman god of Saturn, and also the Canaanite/Phoenician God-King Moloch of fire (or Molech, Molekh, Molok, Molek, Molock, Moloc, Melech, Milcom, or Molcom), associated with sacrifices by fire. Mot appears to be Tanite’s male counterpart of death as she is of fertility and life. The Canaanites believed that the soul departs from the body and goes to the underground land of Mot after death. The relief also infers that they are digging the tomb up as if it is coming up from the underworld. I find it interesting that essentials for the afterlife where left with the body to include food and drink, so the departed doesn't bother the living. This practice sounds quite Egyptian. Evidently, one story indicates that Tanit (Anat), Ba’al’s sister-wife, killed Mot by splitting him with a knife, burning him, and grinding his burned remains into fine ashes, and spreading them on the fields. Seven years later, Mot returned for revenge. There are other various secondary stories of constant conflicts between Mot, the god of infertility and drought, and Ba’al, the god of fertility, rain, and sky. The below photograph is a stele of Tanite that looks hauntingly similar to a crude depiction of the eye of Horus above an Ankh. Tophe_Carthage

On the façade above the archway of the Shugborough Monument are two faces: one of a horned being associated with the likes of Pan and a smiling man with a balding head (see below). Who are these two entities? The analysis of the word ARCADIA connects with the words chest, goddess, through/across, and two. From my translation, the cipher is saying “Duo (or Two) to Tanite (&) Mot.” Are the horned and balding beings the two that are going through Tanite to Mot (life to death)? Was Thomas Anson and his brother Admiral George Anson alluding to their own subsequent deaths and ultimate destination?

Photograph is attributed to  Edward Wood (aka. Elephantwood) on Wikipedia.

If the face with horns represents Pan, this could have much significance. Pan was the Arcadian God of nature and guardian of shepherds and their flock, which could be a connection to the rustic shepherd theme of the Monument's relief. Pan was the only immortal God that died, which supposedly signified the end of paganism by symbolizing the death of Satan and the birth of Christianity. Pan was a member of the Dionysus' retinue. I'm not sure who the other face is supposed to symbolize. Not many gods were depicted as balding, but this might bring some insight because either Pan or Hermes was considered the father of Silenus, God of drunkenness and a prominent member of the Dionysus' retinue. Images of a balding Silenus are on carved reliefs to include reliefs of him on sarcophagi in Dionysiac processions. This is pure speculation but some of the pieces fit, or perhaps he's Father Time, Cronus, or this is the face of Ba'al himself? Otherwise, I'm open for suggestions because the big clue might be that this face has no beard. 

Speaking of Dionysiac partying, Thomas Anson was a founding member of Society of Dilettanti or Society of Debutants that was well known for its debauchery. Was this “Society” a cult? In 1786, Dilettanti Richard Payne Knight wrote a treatise on the worship of Priapus, god of fertility and male gentiles. In a nutshell, Knight believed art is religion and religion is sex. Some have coined the Dilettanti’s activities as Eleusinian Mysteries, referring  the cult of Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The kiste, sacred chest, or kalathos, the lidded basket, is reportedly where the secrets of the Eleusinian Mysteries were contained; could the appearance of sarcophagus on top of the tomb represent this sacred chest? Or, perhaps these beliefs stemmed from the Dionysian Mysteries with the use of intoxicants that the Dilettanti were well known for imbibing or a mergence of the Eleusinian and Dionysian Mysteries.

Why is this message on the Shepherd’s Monument? Who brainstormed this message? Was it Thomas Anson who commissioned the monument; his brother, Admiral George Anson, who paid for the monument; or Peter Sheemakers, the sculptor, who took it upon himself to make this mirror-image version of Poussin’s painting? There's more to this interpretation, but I have given you all the tools for further research to make your own conclusions because life is an illusion, and what you've learned may not be the truth. Remember, those who won the war writes history. 

As promised on my Homepage, I will be decoding more ancient codes in the future. Which decoding should I do next, the decoding of a Black Madonna or the Chinese Gold Bars Cipher, which is one of the Top 10 Mysteries? But I'll do another soon… If you like this site, click on one of my advertisements to purchase something from Amazon through my advertising portal to keep this site up and running.