Last Modified Date : 21.09.2008

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Shepherd's Monument and Mysterious Inscription
 (Shugborough Code)

Shepherd's Monument sits in the gardens on the north side of Shugborough Hall (the ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield), Staffordshire in England.

Shepherd's Monument was commissioned in 1748 by the then earl, Thomas Anson (brother of Admiral George Anson, 1st Baron Anson), and carries a relief that shows a woman watching three shepherds pointing to a tomb and a mysterious inscription with the letters          


inscribed below of relief.



Shepherd's Monument


Shepherd's Monument takes its name from its central marble relief carved by the Dutch artist Peter Scheemakers. The relief is based on a painting by the French artist Nicholas Poussin, known itself as "ET IN ARCADIA EGO" (the painting's other name is "Les Bergers d'Arcadie II"). The relief is a mirror image of this painting.

The Relief on Shepherd's Monument


The relief is surrounded by a rustic arch. It is believed that Thomas Wright instigated the design of monument, basing it on an idea he published in 'Six Original Designs of Arbours' (1755).

The columns and Doric entablature with crestings of Shepherd's Monument were probably added in 1763 by James (Athenian) Stuart.

On the tomb is depicted the Latin text "ET IN ARCADIA EGO" ("I am also in Arcadia" or "I am even in Arcadia").


The relief has a number of modifications ;

1.   Most noticeably that it is reversed horizontally.

2.   Another difference is a change in which letter of the tomb a shepherd is pointing at. In the painting The letter R in ARCADIA is being pointed to. The finger in the sculpture is broken, but was pointing to the N in IN.

3.   The sculpture also adds an extra sarcophagus to the scene, placed on top of the one with the Latin phrase.

Below the relief is the mysterious cryptic inscription etched on a marble tablet :

D                                      M

Shugborough Code


The inscription has been said to indicate the location of The Holy Grail.

Nicolas Poussin was believed to be a Grand Master of the Knights Templar, an order which captured Jerusalem during the Crusades and were known as the keepers of The Holy Grail.

Chief among these is the belief that the connections of the estate's creators, The Anson Family, with the grand masters of the closed society of Knights Templar.

For over 250 years, the cryptic inscription has exercised the minds of Britain's finest theologians, historians and scientists, including Charles Darwin, Josiah Wedgwood and, most recently, the Second World War code-breakers of Bletchley Park. But it has never been decoded.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Shugborough House inscription". This article also uses material from

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