Apartment Building for the Dead

“Located in the seaside city of Santos in Brazil, Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica is the world’s tallest cemetery, its sprawling 14 stories accommodating tens of thousands of bodies. Built in 1983, the structure will undergo an expansion to accommodate increasing demand for its repositories, crypts and mausoleums. Like surrounding real estate, the necropolis must grow ever higher to accommodate a growing urban population – and it charges a higher price for a final resting place with a view.”

“A unique perspective on how death interacts with architecture, capitalism and class in the 21st century, A Tomb with a View premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in 2014.”
Director: Ryan J Noth
Producer: Hugh Gibson, Ryan J Noth
Website: Fifth Town Films

Mausoleo en Espana

A mausoleum is an external free-standing building (usually stone) with interment space above ground for the remains of many. It is an alternative to individual burial plots when land is premium.

In the City of Granada, Spain, there are many such mausoleums where the coffin is placed in a niche above ground. The niche is usually rented by an entire family for decades to ensure that generations of family members are laid to rest together. If subsequent generations fail to renew the rental agreement and a lease is left to expire, the remains are often then buried.


This niche also serves as a focal point for the 1st of November ‘Dia de los Muertos’, when respects are paid to those that have passed on that year.

Si nada nos salva de la muerte, al menos que el amor nos salve de la vida. Spanish poet, Pablo Neruda. Translation: If nothing saves us from death, at least loves saves us from life.

Spain_Granada_mausoleum wall

Funerals in Spain usually occur within 24 hours of the death. Word of mouth and notices posted outside the church are the only methods used to inform others of a funeral. Friends or family members hold a vigil in the Tanatorio (funeral home) staying the night with the deceased for one last time. After a funeral service the coffin is transferred to the local Cemetery, often accompanied by a procession of locals walking behind the hearse.


There is no cure for birth and death, save to enjoy the interval.  Spanish born philosopher, George Santayana.



The use of emblems or professional tools on gravestones represents the professions of the deceased. The following occupations or trades may be characterized by these gravestone symbols.

Artist: Palette

Builder: Square, pick, trowel



Doctor: The actual symbol for the medical arts is one snake around the staff of Asclepius.

The Caduceus is a symbol of two snakes winding around an often winged staff. It is not a symbol of the medical profession although it is often found on the markers of doctors or others in the health care field.


Engineer: train

Farmer: Coulter (type of hoe), Flail (threshing implement), Swingletree (rod for beating flax), Stalk of corn.

Plough, Scythe or sickle symbolizes cutting life short; death; the final harvest. It is often used as a Memento Mori symbol alluding to Christ’s parable of the wheat field in  the wheat is separated from the chaff. It reminds us to expect death and prepare for it. The scythe is always associated with a male figure such as Father Time. A sheaf of wheat is often found on the graves of the elderly.

Farrier: a trimmer of horse’s hooves


Fireman: Never goes to a fire without his protective helmet.

Merchant: Scales

Minister: Bible

Musician: Can be represented by musical instruments or notes of a song.

Smith: Crown, hammer, anvil. An anvil is also symbolic of martyrdom.

Solicitor: Scales represent justice. This symbol often marks the grave of someone in the legal profession. Sometimes it is found with a statue of Saint Michael, which symbolizes his duty of weighing the souls of the departed.

Teacher: Open book

Writer: Inkwell and quill. Also indicative of a solicitor.

Wright: A worker skilled in the manufacture especially of wooden objects –usually used in combination (shipwright or wheelwright) and , chisel and mallet wood carver.




The thistle is symbolic of earthly sorrow; defiance; the inevitability of death; and remembrance. It is also believed that the thorns on the thistle symbolize the crown of thorns and the Passion of Christ.

A thistle engraved on a gravestone may also identify that the deceased was a native of Scotland (the thistle is the national emblem).

Campbellville _McEwen

McEwen. This surname was first found in Argyllshire, a region in the west of Scotland. The Island of Islay is in the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.

Campbellville _Mclean

McLean. The surname is from the western region of Scotland and the Hebrides.
Kilmartin is a small village in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland  best known as an area with one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland. It contains over 350 monuments within a 6 mile radius.


Brush is believed to be a French name from the region of Normandy brought to England in the 11th century. It would appear that the deceased was a native of Scotland per the thistles and bagpipe engravings.


Murdock originates from Ayrshire in the south western area of Scotland. It is derived from the Gaelic word Murchadh meaning sea warrior. There are many spelling variations of the name, the most common being Murdoch. This stone reveals so much about the family: Bob and Ella were married in Scotland, Bob was awarded a WWII Military Medal for Bravery in the Field, and they were nature lovers.

Milton_Boston church_Margaret

Margaret Henderson, relict of John. Relict is an old Scottish term for widow. Henderson is a common Scottish surname derived from the patronymic form of the name Hendry.
Halkirk is a village on the River Thurso in Caithness, in the Highland council area of Scotland.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.


The surname Dymock is derived from the village Dymock in the county of Gloucester. The name was brought to England by the Norman Conquerors. The association with the thistle must be related to his wife, Margaret Ferguson (a name found in the south western region of Scotland.)



They were loving and pleasant in their lives and in death not long divided.

July 11th, 1874 started out as a sunny day with a moderate wind on Lake Ontario, Canada.These ideal conditions for sailing prompted Robert Henderson and Charles Anderson to launch their thirty foot centreboard sloop named “Foam” from the mooring at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto. The Andersons with five friends (all from prominent Toronto families) headed towards their destination in Niagara-on-the-Lake where they intended to party at the Queen’s Royal Hotel.


A sudden storm with heavy winds directed the yacht to a point where the strong current of the Niagara river merged with lake waters. The sudden turbulence caused a rogue wave to engulf the cabin and cockpit, immediately sinking the Foam, and pulling her down to a watery grave. Search and rescue vessels which were launched the following morning eventually discovered the vessel with five of the young men lying in their bunks.

Burial of the young men took place later at St. Mark’s Cemetery, Niagara-on-the-Lake. A white granite headstone surmounted by a Celtic Cross marks their resting place. The original inscription is almost illegible; “In affectionate remembrance of Robert C. Henderson, J. H. Murray, C. E. Anderson, Weir Anderson, Philips Braddon, C. V. W. Vernon, Vincent H. Taylor; who were lost on 11th July, 1874, by the foundering of the Yacht Foam.”

The memorial stone and seven gravestones are enclosed within a low  iron fence. A bronze plaque was erected by the Royal Canadian Yacht .

On the evening of July 11, 1874, the sailing yacht Foam left Toronto headed for Niagara-on-the-Lake. As darkness fell the wind freshened, blowing heavily from the east. Guests of the Queen’s Royal Hotel watched her lights flicker and disappear. Next morning, like and arm reaching to heaven, only the mast of the vessel showed above the breakers on the bar.

 A typical centreboarder with light draught and low freeboard, Foam was an older yacht and laboured in the high seas running. Despite the heroic efforts of all her crew all aboard were tragically lost. Here rest seven young yachtsmen from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Toronto.

C.E. Anderson, W. Anderson, P. Braddon, R.C. Henderson, J.H. Murray, V.H. Taylor, C. Vernon.

 This plaque is placed in fond remembrance by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and the Anderson family in recognition of “sailors everywhere.”


The accident has been described as one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall the sport of yachting on Lake Ontario. It is interesting to note that salvage crews found five of the young men in their cabins, and yet the plaque states heroic efforts of all her crew. Repeated sightings of the ghostly Foam continue to this day.


Burial Vessels

Vaults were created to prevent grave robbers from gaining access to freshly buried bodies, and were originally made of wood. Coffins, the universal symbol of death and mortality, are most often placed underground with a gravestone as a marker. Nowadays, the vault is manufactured in metal and is inserted into the ground to prevent the earth and coffin from collapsing. Collapse of the coffin causes the ground to sink and makes maintenance of the cemetery grounds difficult.

France_Paris_pere Lachaise_open
Pere LaChaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Man that is born of a woman is of few days

A sarcophagus is an elaborate coffin which can be created in any medium; wood, stone or metal. It is often only large enough to house one body, often someone of importance, and contains no window or door. It can also be considered a monument as it has a carving or inscription.

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Ye mourning friends as you pass by
This monument survey
Learn ‘ere your solemn hour draws nigh
To choose that better way. 1813

A crypt is an underground stone chamber beneath a church, or in the wall of a religious building. Following entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached.

In the silent tomb we leave them
Till the resurrection morn
When our Saviour will receive them
And restore their lovely form

A tomb is very similar to a sepulcher in that it is typically underground. It can vary greatly in size and often holds the containers of multiple bodies. A sepulcher is a small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried. This term is also used to describe a structure with recesses in the wall to receive ashes of the dead.


Here in the silent tomb beneath this miry sod
Lies one who bore the Cross and trusted in his God;
Farewell, dear wife and friends, and my dear little son,
My work is finished and the prize is won. 1827

An above ground, large, free-standing structure is known as a mausoleum. It may be the resting place of an individual or a family group. It is often ornate with a small stained glass or open metalwork window. It stands as a monument and the more elaborate structures may have an interior chapel.

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Faith Mortal! Seize the transient hour
Improve each moment as it flies
Life’s a short summer, Man a flower
Dies Alas! How soon he dies. – 1831

A cairn or tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave.

The busy world is hushed
The fever of life over and our work done.

An ossuary is a container or room into which the bones of multiple dead people are placed. The catacombs are a renowned example.

Pere LaChaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Thy peaceful days shall keep my bones
Till that sweet day
I walk from my long sleep and leave
My bed of clay.
Sweet truth to me
I shall rise and with these eyes
My Saviour see.

The Holy Trinity

In Christianity, the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is represented in several ways.

A Triqueta (three interconnected circles or triangles) represents the Holy Trinity and is symbolic of eternity. This is popularly used on Celtic crosses.


A trefoil is the shape of a  three leaf clover, or shamrock, and symbolizes renewed life and resurrection.

The equilateral triangle was an emblem of the Gods in Egyptian times, and symbolized wisdom to the Greeks. It was also adopted by the Christians to represent the Holy Trinity.

st paul fort erie

When the triangle encloses an eye (the eye of God) it symbolizes the holiness of the Blessed Trinity. If it is also surrounded by a circle it represents the eternity of the Holy Trinity.

A circle within a triangle symbolizes wisdom; or conversely, a triangle within a circle – often so interconnected that it is hard to tell which is which.

circle triangle



St. Nicholas Churchyard

The Old Parish Church known previously as St. Nicholas Church is now entitled St. Nicholas Buccleuch Parish church. The Church of Scotland building originated in the 15th century and is located at the east end of the High street in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland.

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The original church was founded by Sir James Douglas in 1406. When the building deteriorated and the roof collapsed, the chancel (the part near the altar reserved for the clergy and choir) was walled off from the rest of the church.

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There are 132 souls buried here.