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Britain's WWII code-breakers tackle inscription mystery
The Times (N.W. Indiana)` ^ | 5-12-2004 | JILL LAWLESS

Posted on 05/12/2004 9:19:42 PM PDT by Prince Charles

Britain's WWII code-breakers tackle inscription mystery

By JILL LAWLESS Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) -- The experts who cracked Nazi Germany's secret codes are tackling a 10-letter enigma that has stumped fine minds for more than 250 years -- D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M.

Former code-breakers from Britain's World War II intelligence center at Bletchley Park set out this week to decipher a cryptic inscription on an 18th-century monument at an English country estate.

Legend says it reveals the location of the Holy Grail. Some believe it is a private message to a deceased beloved. No one knows for sure.

"The inscription is obviously a classical reference. It's either Latin or Greek and based on some historical happening," said mathematician Oliver Lawn, 85, a Bletchley Park veteran who is leading the quest along with his linguist wife, Sheila.

The mystery is carved on a marble monument tucked away in the gardens of Shugborough House in central England, the ancestral home of photographer Lord Lichfield.

Based on a painting by French artist Nicholas Poussin, but carved in reverse, the etching depicts three shepherds pointing at an inscription on a tomb that reads "Et in arcadia ego" ("And I am in Arcadia, too"). Below the image is a line of letters -- O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V -- and beneath that on either end, the letters D and M.

Lawn, who was recruited to Bletchley Park in 1940 while studying mathematics at Cambridge University, proclaimed himself puzzled.

"The picture's a funny one," he said. "Why it's a mirror image is very strange."

Some believe the monument holds the key to finding the Holy Grail, the cup Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper. The Anson family, who built the Shugborough estate in the 17th century, had a long-standing interest in the Knights Templar, a secretive medieval order who claimed to be guardians of the grail.

Shugborough spokesman Russel Gethings said the carving made significant changes to Poussin's painting that could contain clues to the code.

"They changed what one of the shepherds is pointing to," he said. "He's pointing to a completely different letter than in the painting. And they've added a second sarcophagus to the picture."

Others think the letters are a private message from one person to another. The current Lord Lichfield's grandmother believed it stood for the opening letters of a line of verse: "Out of your own sweet vale Alicia vanish vanity 'twixt deity and man."

"Inscriptions like this might be considered to be a family message, but there are no records within the family of what it means," said Gethings.

Teams of mathematicians, linguists, crossword-puzzle aficionados and chess champions worked at Bletchley Park, northwest of London -- code-named Station X -- to crack Nazi secret codes during the war.

Their greatest success was breaking the Enigma, the machine that produced codes used by the German navy to direct U-boat attacks on Allied convoys. The breakthrough was a major factor in the Allied victory and may have shortened the war.

Christine Large, director of the Bletchley Park museum, said the monument's code was different from the mathematical ciphers used by the Nazis.

"This looks to us as if it's probably going to need language expertise -- maybe skills in Greek and maybe forgotten languages -- as well as mathematics and puzzles," she said.

The museum is encouraging visitors to take a stab at cracking the code, and to contribute any historical information that may prove helpful.

"We have to keep an open mind about what kind of solution we're seeking here," Large said. "I think it's likely to be something more prosaic than the Holy Grail, but then most things are."


TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bletchleypark; britain; code; enigma; epigraphyandlanguage; godsgravesglyphs; holygrail; inscription; mystery; stationx; wwiicodebreakers
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1 posted on 05/12/2004 9:19:43 PM PDT by Prince Charles
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To: Prince Charles
More "Da Vinci Code" stuff ?
Your local "texting" teens might crack the code :)
2 posted on 05/12/2004 9:25:41 PM PDT by 1066AD
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To: Prince Charles
Hmmmm... just a few letters isn't a lot to go on. If I had paid more attention in my Latin classes, I might have a go at it myself.
3 posted on 05/12/2004 9:26:46 PM PDT by bcoffey (Sen. Kerry: I'm not questioning your service; I'm questioning your sanity!)
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To: Prince Charles
"Out of your own sweet vale Alicia vanish vanity 'twixt deity and man"

Not bad.

4 posted on 05/12/2004 9:28:13 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: Prince Charles
All I know...
Arcadia = an ancient pastoral district of the central Peloponnesus, Greece; hence, any place of rural peace and simplicity.
5 posted on 05/12/2004 9:28:42 PM PDT by anonsquared (this space for rent)
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To: Prince Charles; blam
Heads up, blam. This may be of interest to ya.


6 posted on 05/12/2004 9:29:27 PM PDT by rdb3 ($710.96... The price of freedom.)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Prince Charles
I say the "D" and "M" at either end represent 500 and 1000 respectively (as Roman Numerals).
8 posted on 05/12/2004 9:31:03 PM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Prince Charles
I wonder if they have given the "Puzzle Palace" a shot at this?
10 posted on 05/12/2004 9:34:35 PM PDT by Chu Gary (USN Intel guy 1967 - 1970)
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To: Chu Gary
The main set of letters cannot stand for a Latin phrase, as Latin does not distinguish between U and V.
11 posted on 05/12/2004 9:44:09 PM PDT by TheConservator (The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.)
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To: Prince Charles
I think it was an early ad for Vick's vapor rub
12 posted on 05/12/2004 9:47:10 PM PDT by woofie ( 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.)
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To: Prince Charles
The poetry line does it for me.
13 posted on 05/12/2004 9:50:49 PM PDT by Ann Archy (Abortion: The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience. DC)
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To: Prince Charles
Why are they so certain that the letters mean anything? It doesn't generally make sense to put a random string of numbers into either a painting or an engraving, true. But you never forget on whose grave the letters belong if people stop to puzzle over it.

In other words, a grave marks the place. The name tells you who is interred there. The mystery keeps their memory alive, whether there's really anything behind it or not.
14 posted on 05/12/2004 9:51:59 PM PDT by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: TheConservator
Excellent point.
15 posted on 05/12/2004 9:53:28 PM PDT by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: BradyLS
bump
16 posted on 05/12/2004 9:56:11 PM PDT by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: Prince Charles
Hm.....

I'm going to go carve A.Y.B.A.B.T.U. on a rock off in the middle of nowhere, just on the chance I may annoy the hell out of someone 250 years from now.

17 posted on 05/12/2004 10:00:13 PM PDT by Psycho_Bunny
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To: msdrby
ping
18 posted on 05/12/2004 10:04:34 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (There are 118 Texas Rangers. Are you sure you wanna mess with Texas?)
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To: Prince Charles
Revenge of the "one-time pad"...I can hear the cryptographers' heads exploding even now! :)
19 posted on 05/12/2004 10:06:04 PM PDT by The Duke
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To: TheConservator
The main set of letters cannot stand for a Latin phrase, as Latin does not distinguish between U and V.

It might in medieval Latin, which had both U and V.

(Pointless extraneous note: it also had both I and J, which is why that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is silly.)

20 posted on 05/12/2004 10:06:46 PM PDT by SedVictaCatoni
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To: Psycho_Bunny
I'm going to go carve A.Y.B.A.B.T.U. on a rock off in the middle of nowhere, just on the chance I may annoy the hell out of someone 250 years from now.

PUZZLED CRYPTOGRAPHER: What you say !

21 posted on 05/12/2004 10:07:58 PM PDT by SedVictaCatoni
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To: Ann Archy
Check the letters again against the initials in the verse - the beginning doesn't match up.
22 posted on 05/12/2004 10:09:01 PM PDT by SedVictaCatoni
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To: Psycho_Bunny
...just on the chance I may annoy the hell out of someone 250 years from now.

How about--- I. B. Y. N. F. O. W. T M.

23 posted on 05/12/2004 10:15:21 PM PDT by Dan(9698)
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To: anonsquared
Arcadia can also = Pastoral or Victorian poetic references to an idealized Britain, IIRC.

Part of the standard poetic symbology of the times, loosely based on their *percieved* values of the ancient Greek Arcadia. It also carried over into other literature & art.
24 posted on 05/12/2004 10:36:14 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The world needs more horses, and fewer Jackasses!)
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To: Floyd R Turbo; Askel5; Velveeta
The Shepherd of Kyiv:


25 posted on 05/12/2004 10:36:27 PM PDT by struwwelpeter
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To: Dan(9698)
I bet you never figure out what this means. How's that?
26 posted on 05/12/2004 10:36:27 PM PDT by Hitlerys uterus (I have just about had it up to here with foreigners.)
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To: Prince Charles
Do you owe S.V. a V.V., M?
27 posted on 05/12/2004 10:37:06 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
Or equally, Do you own S.V. a V., V.M.?

S.V. and either V.V. or V.M. may simply be initials of people.

Do you own Vivian Vivaldi a fiver, Victor Morgan? - for example...

Not exactly the holy grail is it? lol. But one must consider all the pedestrian possibilities first.

28 posted on 05/12/2004 10:41:52 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
Perhaps someone had a bet about who would outlive whom...
29 posted on 05/12/2004 10:43:00 PM PDT by JasonC
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Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

To: JasonC
Have they solved yet? Have they solved it yet?
31 posted on 05/12/2004 11:39:37 PM PDT by Ken H
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To: struwwelpeter
TOPT ... hrm ... t ... o ... p ... t ...
32 posted on 05/12/2004 11:50:29 PM PDT by Askel5
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To: Prince Charles
This is easy.

Daily
Orations
Unite
Old
Sage
Veterans
Always
Visiting
Venues
Marvelous

Or, in other words, daily visits help keep wise old veterans united in visiting good places.

Just kidding....

33 posted on 05/12/2004 11:54:29 PM PDT by neutrino (Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences. Robert Louis Stevenson.)
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To: Prince Charles
I think it says:

"Hide in interns in Kenya, and don't let the Flying Squirrel talk to the press."

34 posted on 05/13/2004 12:19:05 AM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: SedVictaCatoni
PUZZLED CRYPTOGRAPHER: What you say !
Someone set us up the bombast!
35 posted on 05/13/2004 12:20:40 AM PDT by Nateman (Socialism first, cancer second.)
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To: Prince Charles
D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M
Dirty odorous undertakers ought stop valuing Anglo virgin vixen meat!
Dead only until our savior verifies as very virtuous man.
36 posted on 05/13/2004 12:46:28 AM PDT by Nateman (Socialism first, cancer second.)
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To: woofie
DRINK YOUR OVALTINE.
37 posted on 05/13/2004 2:53:07 AM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS. CNN ignored torture & murder in Saddam's Iraq to keep their Baghdad Bureau.)
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To: blam
ping
38 posted on 05/13/2004 2:59:12 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: weegee

39 posted on 05/13/2004 3:03:51 AM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS. CNN ignored torture & murder in Saddam's Iraq to keep their Baghdad Bureau.)
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To: Prince Charles
Et in Arcadia Ego.
Even in paradise, I death, hold sway.
40 posted on 05/13/2004 3:05:36 AM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: Askel5
To Open Press Top.
41 posted on 05/13/2004 3:32:35 AM PDT by Junior (Sodomy non sapiens)
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FUNEM
SVFM
FUNEX
SVFX
OKMNX
42 posted on 05/13/2004 5:52:29 AM PDT by Titanites
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To: Psycho_Bunny; Vic3O3; cavtrooper21
I was thinking the same thing!

Semper Fi
43 posted on 05/13/2004 6:52:12 AM PDT by dd5339 (Happiness is a full VM-II and a DEAD AND BURIED AWB!)
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To: Rebelbase
Got it, thanks.
44 posted on 05/13/2004 7:08:33 AM PDT by blam
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To: Prince Charles
"Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine."
45 posted on 05/13/2004 7:10:33 AM PDT by dfwgator (It's sad that the news media treats Michael Jackson better than our military.)
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To: weegee
Darn it, you beat me to it.
46 posted on 05/13/2004 7:12:47 AM PDT by dfwgator (It's sad that the news media treats Michael Jackson better than our military.)
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To: struwwelpeter
L.O.L. !
47 posted on 05/13/2004 8:58:25 AM PDT by Velveeta
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To: All
L.S.M.F.T.

;)
48 posted on 05/13/2004 8:58:56 AM PDT by Prince Charles
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To: Nateman
Your second is actually quite good. Considering time and place of origin, etc.
49 posted on 05/13/2004 9:29:34 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: Dan(9698)
How about--- I. B. Y. N. F. O. W. T M.

I'll Bet You Never igure Out What This Means

Good one! It means something and nothing at the same time!

50 posted on 05/13/2004 5:54:34 PM PDT by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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