A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a website called The Great Lost Treasure: across its sequentially-numbered twenty-four pages, it builds up a case for arguably the most audacious (and certainly the most all-encompassing) cipher history / mystery theory I’ve yet seen.

The person behind this website is Ron Justron, who sees his over-arching theory as falling somewhere between [inconveniently true] and [a thorn in nearly every other cipher theorist’s side]. It’s not hard to see why such people get so annoyed by him: his cipher mega-theory aspires not only to disprove almost all the cipher theories out there, but also to replace them, insofar as – to him – they (pretty much) all are trapped within the explanatory cage of his mega-theory.

How should I try to do justice to this awesomely epic construction? I’ll try to start at the beginning…

The Great Lost Treasure

Justron’s starting point is a treasure mystery associated with (the very real) Admiral Lord George Anson (1697-1762), and (apparently) described in Andrew Westcott’s (1999) book “El Tesoro de Lord Anson”. (If I mentioned that George Anson was born in Shugborough Hall, you might be able to guess part of where this is going).

According to Justron’s account, a treasure horde was entrusted to a certain Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla at the end of the Spanish War of Succession in 1714: the Spanish Hapsburgs, having lost their ownership of the Spanish Crown to the French House of Bourbon, passed it to Ubilla for him to secrete in South America for safety.

Note that Captain-General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla definitely existed. In 1715 when the convoy of treasure ships he was commanding on the way back from Havana to Spain was hit by a hurricane close to the Bahamas, over a thousand people lost their lives, including Ubilla himself. Only one ship, the Grifon, managed to avoid catastrophe.

One treasure site recounts the story that the Capitana went down with the jewels Philip V had been required to provide as a dowry for his new wife, the Duchess of Parma: these included “a heart delicately crafted of 130 pearls, a 74 carat emerald ring, a pair of pearl earrings-each complemented with a 14 carat pearl, and a rosary of pure coral the size of small marbles“. This much-searched-for royal trove was used as a plot device in films such as The Deep (the 1977 Peter Benchley-written film, not the 2013 Icelandic film) and Fools Gold (which I thought was a bit pants, though not offensively so).

So is this Justron’s “Great Lost Treasure”? Actually no – for once, it is nothing so boringly mundane as gold, silver or diamonds: far more audaciously, Justron asserts that it is the “set of vessels, items and furnishings for the Tabernacle in the Wilderness” that Moses had had constructed, and which came to be housed in the Temple of Jerusalem. And then Justron raises the stakes yet higher, by asserting that the “Holy Grail” has been mistranslated, and that what we call the Holy Grail was actually part of the Davidic Temple trove.

The Über-Map

According to Justron’s narrative, once Ubilla had concealed this heavenly stash in South America, he somehow managed to convey a map of where he hidden it to the Royal Society in London, which (he says) “then became the reluctant stewards of what was considered to be God’s own treasure”.

According to Justron, the list of things that Ubilla passed across included (though note that many of the details come from a separate cipher mystery, courtesy of Richard Latcham, which I’ll cover in Cipher Mysteries when my brain has stopped hurting from this one):

1. A chart of the region.
2. A reference to latitude and longitude using the alchemically themed colours of the fixed stars known as the Tetramorphs and their zodiacal associated constellations.
3. A series of consecutive and geographically descriptive codewords in Spanish;
* Trinidad (Trinity)
* Herradura (Horseshoe)
* Pan da Azucar (Sugarloaf). This is a ‘sailing mark’, a distinctive rock to identify the island and the pass through the surrounding reef.
* Playa Blanca (White Beach)
* Aguada (Water)
* Ebanin (Marked rock)
4. The ‘Cero tres Puntas’: literally the ‘Zero (cipher) of the longitude for the Three Points’.

Justron also asserts that Ubilla also managed to convey a copy of the map to Spain, which was used for a later treasure hunt (Diego Alverez, Luke Barrett, Archer Brown and Killorain: ‘The Treasure of the Tuamotus’ or ‘The Bosun Bird Treasure’).

As you’d perhaps expect, Justron has decrypted the map’s subtleties: he used the Shugborough monument letters, an simple substitution cipher key used by “a lawyer names Zwack in 1786 during a political raid in England of a secret society called ‘The Illuminated Ones’, the magic number 19, the Golden Section, and a map of some South Sea islands.

The trail, then, leads to Mururoa Atoll (where some atomic tests were famously carried out): if you suddenly feel the urge to book your flight there, rest assured I won’t be offended if you open another tab in your browser. 🙂

The Cornelius Patrick Webb Letter

Justron also points to an odd letter dated to later in the 18th century:

I, Cornelius Patrick Webb, Captain of his Majesty’s Navy, Master of the Unicorn, only survivor of the Horseshoe Expedition depute this account to my Lord George Anson First Lord of the Admiralty (courtisualy) because I judgeth malady which ailleth me will not permit to wait. Departure Unicorn June nineteen crossed Cap Horn December six arrived at position lat thirty D eight M. January thirteenth opened royal orders, located secret entrance, translated Crown’s belongings, located eight hundred sixty four bags gold. Two hundred bars gold, twenty one barrels precious stones and jewellery one golden trunk containing rose of gold and emeralds, two foot high, one hundred and sixty chests with gold and silver coins. January twenty four fortress destroyed. When returning the twenty-eight of January before a violent storm, the ship suffered serious damage and lost a mast. We were forced to shelter on an island; the third of February found us at Longitude … Latitude… and it was impossible to carry out repairs for the safe transportation of the treasure; transferred to a new hiding place valley of Anson a cable length from the observation point in direction great yellow stone depth fifteen feet. Unicorn repaired for emergency crossing course Valparaiso; informed of plans for mutiny while the ship was becalmed to the West of Valparaiso I made use of the auxiliary boat (Pinnace). Unicorn blown up by me with all on board, six loyal men sacrificed for the cause of the Crown, I arrived at Valparaiso. 1761

Now, the problem for Justron is that even if this letter is genuine (and personally I’m still struggling to get to the stage where I believe that it is), its contents doesn’t quite fit his über-narrative. However, his resolution is to infer from internal evidence that the letter was originally written in Latin and then mistranslated into English.

Anson’s Papers

When Lord Anson dies in 1762, his papers were (says Justron) found to contain a file containing enciphered or coded details of something that was called the “Horseshoe expedition”, which was presumed to refer to the Webb Letter above. Justron continues:

“As the Webb report mentioned the ‘Valley of Anson’ and with Lord George Anson having published a book [“A Voyage around the World”, 1748] with a map of Juan Fernandez Island, anyone with a modicum of imagination would have recognised the similarity in shape between the robes of the Shepherdess on the monument and the island of Juan Fernandez. From that day copies of the Shepherdess’ shape were made and circulated as a ‘treasure map’.

Justron also observes that “An interesting modification that occurs for each region where the story is retold is to give the ‘dying sailor’ a local sounding name or the name of a person known to the inhabitants.” For him, the prototypical “dying sailor” was Cornelius Webb, and every one of the numerous ones ones thereafter were merely story-telling clones of Webb.

And this tweak helps him build two additional storeys to the top of his argumentary tower: that not only are all treasure maps ever made little more than variations on Anson’s original treasure map hidden in plain sight on the Shepherd’s Monument at Shugborough, but also all “a dying sailor bequeathed me this treasure map” stories are variations of a single meta-story.

Oak Island and Beale Papers

Justron then takes a long digression into the murky tunnels and waters of Oak Island. And then into the Beale Papers, which he says were written by some Freemasons in an attempt “to alert other Freemasons they had found the Cerro tres Puntas”.

Harold T. Wilkins and Fake Maps

Ron Justron’s next target is the wonderfully frustrating set of maps found in the 1930s: he asserts that nutty proto-Fortean hack Harold T. Wilkins had found Lord Anson’s Papers in the 1920s, and so decided to construct a long series of maps in some kind of homage to the Anson über-map. These then (so the story goes) were inserted into oldish items of furniture, which then all came into the possession of collectors Guy and Hubert Palmer in Eastbourne between 1929 and 1942.

After Hubert Palmer’s demise, the maps passed to his nurse (Mrs Dick), who then sold them all off to a mysterious Canadian/American syndicate in 1957: they have never been since since.

For Justron, however, Wilkins was pulling everyone’s legs, because he clearly (writes Justron) knew that the location referred to by Anson, Webb and Ubilla lay somewhere else entirely. And this is because – asserts Justron – it was also Wilkins and Latcham who were behind Latcham’s fake cipher / treasure maps at Guayacan.

After a digression on the Tokugawa treasure, Justron then starts to get to what I can only describe as the real meat of his argument (yes, there is in indeed more to go yet). Which links Harold T. Wilkins to…

Rennes-le-Chateau and the Priory of Sion

[Wilkins] decided to leave for posterity the final part to the grand riddle. This part would be the direct pointers to Lord George Anson and his map. […] Unfortunately Harold T Wilkins selected a right bunch for his chosen dupes; rather than just carry the clues for others to find they goofed the whole thing up completely.

In the mess that the myth of Rennes le Chateau has become one could dismiss the whole thing as a fraud perpetrated by a group of French associates in the 1950s for their own gain.

In reality the story of Rennes le Chateau is that of it being just another Masonic hoax/riddle in which the real codes have to be identified and decrypted.

Yes: just when you thought there were no more cipher-related mysteries to throw into the same bubbling pot, the Priory of Sion appears. Justron’s long argument that accompanies this claim reduces to: Wilkins was the Svengali who set the whole thing up (apparently with Anson’s Great Lost Treasure in mind), but with Wilkins’ death in 1960 everyone involved seemed to lose the plot.

The Secret of the Unicorn?

But Justron has left the best to last – and it is so stunning that he hasn’t even put it on his website yet. Which is that the Tintin adventure The Secret of the Unicorn (published in Le Soir in serial form between 1942 and 1943) contains embedded clues to much of the above.


Justron writes:

“Unfortunately the main part missed too was the hint given in Tintin, that is by assembling the (RLC) parchments, you’ll be led to the ancestral hall of a famous mariner where you will learn the Secret of the Unicorn.”

Of course, for Justron the ancestral hall of a famous mariner being referred to is not Hergé’s fictional Marlinspike Hall of his fictional Sir Francis Haddock, but without any shadow of a doubt Shugborough Hall, birthplace of George Anson. And the Unicorn is, well, the Unicorn (of course).

The Great Lost Treasure, Really?

For me, there’s something endearingly syncretic – almost Rastafarian, with their “Truth of All Truths” – about Justron’s sprawlingly all-encompassing cryptophily. For him, the whole cipher/treasure endeavour appeals to an Ur-story lurking beneath the suburban drear of mere data, much like Joseph Campbell inferred a single story laying beneath all myth.

Naturally, I don’t believe it for a minute: but I wouldn’t, would I? I’m a getting-the-details-really-properly-right kind of guy who likes to understand the arguments and evidence behind each cipher/treasure/history/mystery, one at a time. Which means that I don’t really believe that Justron has sufficient evidence to prove any single one of his claims about these historical mysteries, even though he is convinced all his conclusions holistically support one another.

All the same, Justron’s mega-narrative steamrollers its way through a whole load of cipher mysteries in (what, to me at least, comes across as) a fresh new way, and I can honestly say that it has helped make me look afresh at a lot of the ground he has covered over the last decade.

30 thoughts on ““The Great Lost Treasure”…

  1. Don Latham on June 12, 2016 at 11:50 pm said:

    The secret currently resides with the Priory of Sion…

  2. nickpelling on June 13, 2016 at 9:37 am said:

    Don: now you’ve really done it.

    Expect a knock on your door from a mad-eyed monk… 😉

  3. milongal on June 14, 2016 at 4:13 am said:

    John Titor has the details about where it is now, but he really needs to solve the 2038 problem first….
    And you can tell this because if you add up all the numbers in the Anson letters section above, you get a totally unrelated number….Thankfully I found an IBM 5100 hiding in the garage so he has one now.

  4. bdid1dr on June 27, 2016 at 3:20 pm said:

    Might it help wannabe treasure hunters if they knew the correct name for the atoll? Try TUAMOTU atoll. Then run the coordinates — which probably lead to a mine, alright —


  5. The gent to whom you refer has recently contacted me; I run a research website and have written extensively about Oak Island and Beale from a critical viewpoint, and apparently he wanted to “enlighten” me on his work. It’s an interesting take on a lot of old stories; he seems to show several of the pirate treasure legends point to similarly shaped islands in different locations, but a lot of the logic (not to mention the underlying assertion that Anson is the start of all this) is tenuous at best…tortured might be a better word. As you say though, it’s a very fresh look at some old stories. I’m more likely to accept that various treasure authors just copied elements of one anothers’ work out of sheer laziness, though!

  6. I and thanks for these informations. I’m base in Tahiti and actually I cross informations I found with local and oral informations. By chance a friend of me is married with a girl who is just native from the closest island where there was the research ( and closest island where you can live ). Her family have a pearl farm and her grand parent have information. I will go there. One think I’m working on is the change of names of the island. Grand father no the old names of the island that can give confusions. May be I will publish few things because the research is a tresor inside the tresor. And one important thing is also to keep in mind Bora Bora and little island around Bora Bora. There is fifty percent of chance to find something there according to the triangle theory and my theory base on minimum accessibility to move 14 tons of gold. I’m just back from a discussion with her and we are convince that if fisher man have lot of difficulty to access with really what about a vintage vessel and dingy with gold and gold …
    I will publish first in french : http://www.mode-et-voyages.com and may be here if people are interested : http://travel-and-fashion.com

  7. The monument cipher at Lord Anson’s ancestral home – Shugborough is solved (It gives the lat and long of the real treasure island Anson sent a secret expedition to),
    The Rennes-le-Chateau ‘mystery’ is solved>the clues are sending you to Anson’s monument.
    The ‘Kidd’ charts are solved showing how and why they are fraudulent (but real lat and long of treasure island is hidden in ‘Key’ chart.
    Read the real and true story in ‘Anson’s Gold’. No Mr Justron (Ron Mckenzie) waffle here (see also ‘getmckenzie1blog’)
    And the real treasure island? > Pinaki in French Polynesia, all clues take you here, NOT Oak Island or even Juan Fernandez Island.

  8. Hi George,

    Errrm… I think most people would agree that’s a lot of skittles for a single bowling ball to be knocking down at once. 😉

    Regardless, I’ve ordered a copy and will review it shortly, I’m surprised I hadn’t noticed it before, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Cheers, Nick

  9. It took 12 years of research Nick, each individual story is just part of a big jigsaw and you can see how it all comes so obviously together. all these trails lead to just one place. When you see the solution to the Shugborough Monument cipher it’s a case of ‘WOW’, now we can all see.

  10. My copy of your book should arrive any day now. Like many obervers, I have more than a few doubts about some of the evidential jigsaw pieces that seem to be in play here, so I will be interested to see which sides of various lines you come down on… 🙂

  11. George: so… Ron Justron (McKenzie) and “Mike Neon” are different people, then?

  12. No, one and the same.
    Re the Shugborough monument cipher and all the misguided attempts to solve it over the last 250 years, – everybody was overlooking the fact that Anson was a naval man. I hope you enjoy the book, you will see it all becomes so obvious.

  13. Nick, did you get to read ‘Anson’s Gold’?

  14. George: I’m halfway through. I’m finding it a very frustrating book to read, because even though you have done a great deal of research, your premise that the “DNA” of stories is enough to prove anything is not something that any half-critical reader is going to be comfortable with.

  15. I agree but I am making the reader aware of the links positive or theoretical, a compilation of information and connections they/you may have not thought about before – or even been aware. The book is not dictorial but let the sceptics prove otherwise. When you get to the solving of the codes, ciphers star codes and chart clues, it all falls so obviously in place regardless of whether or not you want to believe the ‘back up’ stories and DNA theories. You cannot disprove the maths. Pinaki is treasure island, at 19/138, the Spanish code signs on the island prove that even without the solving of the various clues which provide the same figures, and the solving of the Shepherds Monument cipher – the icing on the cake! You can’t really challenge that! And why hasn’t Keiser on Juan Fernandez found anything after 20 years? because it’s not there! he’s digging on the wrong island because, he couldn’t decipher the Webb letter correctly. (Did I read earlier Justron is trying to guide you to Mururoa atoll??!!)
    Don’t overlook the genius of the author HTWilkins, he hid the Pinaki clue in the so called Captain Kidd charts!! -and his books thereby proving he knew all about the Webb letters. in fact it was he who found them.
    I could have written a 20-page booklet – ‘All the clues and ciphers and the solving of them leading to Pinaki atoll’. But I think the readers would have been asking the questions – how did he get that, where did that come from?

  16. George: don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased that you did so much research and brought it all together in a single book. But… I have to say that the arguments leading to your conclusions remain both hard to follow and (as a result) hard to place much trust in, sorry.

  17. OK but the facts and figures speak for themselves, no good trying to avoid that!

  18. George: so far I haven’t seen any facts and figures, just lots of DNA-based arguments. But maybe the second half will be better. 🙂

  19. You will see when you come t o the solving of the clues part how it all makes sense

  20. Thomas on May 24, 2017 at 3:29 pm said:


    How do we know the Shepherd’s Monument is a copy of Ubilla’s map?
    How do we know the letters represent longitude and latidude data and which code/cipher was used?
    Where are Webb’s letters kept now?

  21. 1/ It is not! That was one of Justron’s theories, it was looked at early on but I soon rubished the idea.
    2/ We know because I have shown that is (obviously) what they represent. It took a lot of study and research into code/ciphers in use in Anson’s time. I also used logic and common sense, for eg.>Rennes, there are clues there to a treasure and everybody – because the clues are there think the ‘treasure’ whatever it is must be there also! Basic mistake. The clues are the ‘Shepherds of Arcadia’ painting and the inverted ‘ANSION’ clue on a parchment, and fancy that! there just happens to be a copy of the painting at Anson’s ancestral home! The secret to the treasure is in a cipher below the marble copy of the painting, the Rennes clues are sending you here. In two lines how would a naval man give the location of the treasure>logic and common sense> two lines, one Latitude, one longitude. The fact that the coded solution gives the same figures as in the Webb letters sows it all up. You couldn’t make it up for those letters to provide the precise figures – repeated as clues many times in the story.
    3/I would guess with the Beeche family on JFI also with B Keiser, but remember, these were only copies provided by Wilkins who translated them from the Latin.

  22. George: “sows it all up” 😉

  23. ‘sews’ didn’t sound right!

  24. Rick A. Roberts on May 29, 2017 at 4:52 am said:

    Here is my deciphering of Shugborough Inscription. I believe that this is a Biblical Numeric. “DOUOSVAVVM”, in Roman Numerals = 1,000 + 500 + 70 + 11 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 1,617. The start of the “Great War”, was in 1617 and lasted until 1648. “DUSAM” = Sleeping. KING JAMES BIBLE – Mark 14:37 ; AND HE COMETH AND FINDETH THEM SLEEPING AND SAID UNTO (PETER) SIMON SLEEPEST THOU? COULDEST NOT THOU WATCH ONE HOUR? “OOVVV” = 37. Matthew 1 KJV “UAVVV” = 25. Geneology 25 lines from Abraham to JESUS. Abraham was promised that CHRIST would should descend from him. “Ve” = UV AW, “V aff = VAVV. I believe that the monument celebrates the BIRTH OF CHRIST and it commemorates the Great War(Thirty Year War) 1617 – 1648.

  25. Rick, like the majority of others who have had a go you have ignored the fact that Lord Anson was a naval man through and through, not a Vicar! He would have had no reason or interest in putting Christ’s birth or the Great war in the cipher>Why would he want to??!! And you are ignoring the crucial very important Poussin painting (above the cipher) link to Rennes le Chateau where Anson clues lie. Ask yourself this; Why would he put the marble copy of the painting and the cipher together on the same monument?
    Read ‘Anson’s Gold’, all will become clear.

  26. Rick A. Roberts on May 29, 2017 at 11:33 pm said:

    George, thank you for your informative response. The scene on the monument shows shepherds tending their flock, so I can definitely see a connection between this carving and KJV, MARK 14:37.

  27. I suppose anyone can create a suggested connection with the bible but! Poussin’s painting is not connected to the bible at all, he simply created a ‘pastoral scene with shepherds’! I seem to recall he had a couple of goes at it.
    For some reason Lord Anson liked it and had it reproduced at his ancestral home>on top of the cipher. In the years after, the knowledge of the painting somehow found its way to Rennes le Chateau as a coded clue to the treasure the solving of the cipher was guiding you to. People are still running around in silly circles at Rennes!

  28. Nick, you have gone very quiet on Anson’s gold!!??

  29. George: ah, you must have missed the review here a fortnight ago:

  30. The, the, the, the, the that’s all Folks! (Merry Melodies music)

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