Stemming from early practises, cremation rituals were more common than burial. The shape of the container in which the ashes were placed may have been a simple box or a marble vase, but no matter what it looked like it was called an “urn,” derived from the Latin ‘uro’, meaning “to burn.”
Used as a symbol of mourning by the ancient Greeks, it was carried in funeral processions to catch the tears of those who grieved.
As burial became a more customary ritual, the urn was one of the most common of monuments, representing the body as a vessel of the soul and its return to dust while the spirit of the departed eternally rested with God.
An urn draped with cloth represents the last partition between life and death. The cloth or shroud draping an urn symbolically guards the ashes as the soul departs the body for its trip to heaven.
An urn with angels on each side signifies the assistance of the deceased on its flight to heaven.
A flame (blaze) issuing from an urn symbolizes undying friendship.
An urn with a wreath often represents the death of an older person and reflects mourning, remembrance and sorrow.
A shattered urn denotes that the deceased lived to an old age.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground which is in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, is named after shoemaker William Copp from whom the town purchased the land. Located on a hill, it overlooks the harbour and the banks of the Charles River, and because of its height, the British used this vantage point to train their cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. The epitaph on Captain Daniel Malcolm’s tombstone at Copp’s Hill is riddled with the marks of British bullets.
As Boston’s second oldest burying ground, it contains more than 1200 marked graves and 272 tombs, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Most of the stone markers were placed before 1825. The quality of the engravings depended on the skill of the carver and the budget of the person buying the memorial stone. In 1838 new walking paths were installed and the gravestones were arranged in rows. Consequently, many of the gravestones no longer mark the location of their owner’s grave.
O my Friends remember that the Lord giveth & taketh away, & blessed be the name of the Lord. O my Husband & Children, dry up your tears, & remember that you must all follow me sooner or later, where we must all lie till Christ our Saviour bids us arise; for thy will must be done. Amen
80% of the gravestones have a Death’s Head carving used as a symbol of death and mortality since medieval times. Winged skulls evolved during the 18th century and reflected the Puritan religious influence.
Winged effigies were common in the latter part of the 18th century.
The urn is a classical symbol for death and the weeping willow is associated with mourning. These two images which are found together became popular during the American Revolution.
Heraldic symbols and coats of arms are also found on headstones within the grounds. The tomb of William Clark, seen here, was later taken by Samuel Winslow, who had his name carved on the gravestone.
Here Lyes The Mortal Part/ Of / William Clark Esq. The legend is almost illegible describing Clark as An Honorable Counsellor for the Province, and A Despiser of Sorry Persons and Little Actions.
A red granite stone commemorating a small dog was erected in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Edinburgh by The Dog Aid Society of Scotland in 1981. The inscription reads, Greyfriars Bobby / Died 14 January 1872 / Aged 16 Years / Let His Loyalty And Devotion / Be A Lesson To Us All / Erected By The Dog Aid Society / Of Scotland And Unveiled By H.R.H. / The Duke Of Gloucester C.C.V.O. / On 13th May 1981.
Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier, is a legend of questionable historical accuracy. The fact which cannot be disputed is that a little dog lived within the Kirkyard in the mid 19th century and was fed and given shelter by local residents often showing up at Traill’s Restaurant in Greyfriars Place as if summoned by the One O’Clock gun.
In 1867 a by-law required that all dogs be licensed by their owners with the understanding that stray or unlicensed dogs would be destroyed. The popularity and public knowledge of Bobby persuaded Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers, a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to purchase a license and award him the Freedom of the City. He also purchased a dog collar inscribed with the words: “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed.” The collar is now in the Museum of Edinburgh, Huntly House, on the Royal Mile.
There are two versions of the legend of Greyfriars Bobby, a little dog with shaggy hair hanging over his eyes and a stumpy tail that died in 14 January 1872.
Legend 1: John Gray, an unemployed gardener, joined the police force as a night watchman and was assigned a dog named Bobby (the British nickname for a policeman) to cover an area of old Edinburgh that included Upper Cowgate, the Grassmarket, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Candlemaker Row, the grounds of Heriot’s Hospital and the Cattle Market. When Gray died in 1858, Bobby followed his master into Greyfriars Kirkyard and was found lying on the grave by the curator the next morning. As dogs were not allowed inside the churchyard he was regularly chased out but continued to return. The curator, James Brown, took pity on the little animal and gave him some food. He also gave him sackcloth to lie on and local residents created a shelter for him to stay warm. He kept vigil at the grave of his master for 14 years until he died. He was then buried just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray’s grave. (Another story relates that special permission was given to open the grave of John Gray to allow his faithful companion to be interred with him.)
Version 2: Bobby, a nuisance stray that frequented Heriot’s hospital, was chased out by the gardener and took refuge in Greyfriars Kirkyard. James Brown, the curator, became fond of him and began to feed him which encouraged the little dog to frequent the churchyard on a regular basis. Visitors to the churchyard who saw Bobby believed he was a devoted dog refusing to leave his master’s grave and encouraged the curator to tell the story of Greyfriars Bobby.
It is also believed that the original Bobby died in 1867. His story had become known nationwide, and to encourage visitation to the graveyard, he was replaced with a younger dog. The Curator continued to relate the story of Bobby in Traill’s Restaurant.
Nevertheless, the gravestone has become a shrine and fetch sticks, toys and flowers are frequently left there.
On 15 November 1873 a drinking fountain with a life size statue of a dog was unveiled near Greyfriars Kirkyard at the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV bridge in Edinburgh. The red granite fountain offered drinking water to humans using stone drinking cups attached by chains until 1975. Dogs drank from an octagonal trough at ground level.
A plaque on the base reads A tribute / to the affectionate fidelity of / Greyfriars Bobby. / In 1858, this faithful dog followed / the remains of his master to Greyfriars Churchyard and lingered near the spot / until his death in 1872. / With permission / erected by the / Baroness Burdett-Coutts.
Inscribed on the statue is: Greyfriars Bobby, from the life just before his death and W.H. Brodie Sc RSA 1872.
The bronze statue of a terrier was sculpted by William Brodie, and donated by Baroness Burdett-Coutts, the President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA.
The backdrop to the monument is Greyfriar Bobby’s Bar, previously known as Traill’s Restaurant. A plaque on the wall states: Greyfriars / “Bobby” / was fed here / from / 1858 to 1872.
The monument was listed a Category A historic building on 29 April 1977 and is Edinburgh’s smallest listed building.
When the fountain was first erected a gas street light stood behind the statue, and during the conversion to electricity of the city’s lights, the lamp was removed. It has now been duplicated using historic photographs and salvaged lamp columns with the assistance of a grant from Edinburgh World Heritage.
The fountain suffered damage due to vandalism and a car accident in 1984 which required repair. It was restored the following year. However, a recent custom of rubbing Bobby’s nose for luck removed the black finish and exposed the underlying brass. On 1st October 2013, Powderhall Bronze, a sculpture conservation and restoration specialist, was hired to clean, wax and re-patinate Bobby’s nose.
Crowns on gravestones represent the glory of life after death, or the triumph over death.
Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him
Take comfort Christians When your friend in Jesus Fell asleep, their better being never ends Why then dejected weep
If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, Even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him
The voice of the ones we loved are still My hope is in Christ
The crown is present in many configurations: a depiction of angels offering a crown to those on Earth, or one of the more common depictions is a cross inside a crown. The cross is symbolic of Christian faith representing Christ’s suffering and represents the eternal reward of life everlasting. When the cross and crown symbols are together they represent the reward of eternal life after death for those who believe in the crucified Savior. “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the Crown of Life.” (Rev. 2:10)
They broke in Jesus and are blessed Now calm their slumbers are From suffering and from soon released And freed from every snare.
Until the day breakand the shadows flee away
Until the day dawn and shadows flee away
Waiting until he comes
Early crowns were made out of plants and derived their meaning from those herbs. As men fashioned crowns out of more enduring substances like gold, they added little spikes to call to mind the power and authority of the sun.