Flower buds signify a renewal of life and many types of flowers are engraved on headstones. The symbolism behind the Carnation, Daffodil, Daisy, Passion Flower, Poppy, Sunflower and Tulip has been researched in a previous post.
The less commonly used flowers are identified below.
Acacia represents the immortality of the soul
Acanthus is one of the most common cemetery motifs associated with the Heavenly garden.
A Bellflower is symbolic of gratitude
A Buttercup represents cheerfulness
The Cinquefoil is symbolic of a beloved daughter or maternal affection
The Crocus represents youthful gladness
The flower, Forget-Me-Not, represents remembrance
The Honeysuckle is symbolic of devoted affection and generosity
The Lalla is indicative of beauty and marriage
The Lotus represents perfect beauty; purity; resurrection and spiritual revelation.
A Pansy symbolizes humility; meditation; remembrance
The Violet is a symbol of humility.
And lastly, a flower that seems to cover every aspect of life, the Morning Glory: birth; the brevity of life; departure; farewell; love; mortality; mourning; resurrection and youth. It is also a symbol of beauty.
Like budding Rose or flower of May Grown up, cut down & wither’d in a day Early she left this Stage in morning dress Her hands were clasped upon her breast.
We kissed her loving brow And in our aching hearts we know We have no violet now. 1909
In Kilmuir cemetery on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, is a grave referred to on the internet as the Crusader’s Grave; yet there is no evidence to suggest that the deceased was a Crusader. Affirming this statement is the medieval custom of crossing the legs on the statue of the deceased if he had fought in the Holy Land.
In fact, the carved effigy that appears to be wearing chain mail may actually be a kilt and representative of a clan chief. The grave has been identified as containing the remains of Angus Martin, or Aonghas na Geoithe (Angus of the Wind) who earned his nickname by insisting on going to sea whatever the weather.
Death and grief are felt in the same way throughout the world regardless of religion or race. We are unified only in birth and death.
The statuary in cemeteries is matched only by the words on stone. This verse is from All Saints Churchyard in Newtown Lindford, England: Weep not Dear Friends, but be content For I to you was only lent. In love I lived; in peace I died. You asked my life but God denied. Farewell, dear friends, and cease to weep. In Christ I dwell; in Christ I sleep.
A woman clinging to the cross is a symbol of faith. It is often accompanied by the verse Rock Of Ages Cleft For Me signifying that a person’s only hope when lost in a sea of sin is to cling to Christ’s cross.
One of the earliest gravestones I have seen can be found in the Copps Hill Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It’s interesting to note that in order to keep within the design boundaries of this elaborate gravestone, the text has been scrunched together.
In the surname WALTERS, the letters L, T, E have been overlapped using the downward stroke of L to create T and E. The same process has been used in the word THIS where the downward stroke of T is shared by the letter H.
The inscription on the gravestone uses Old English text and translates as: Here Lies Buried The Body Of Captain Sampson Walters Aged 53 Years Departed This Life August The 13th 1693
Above the winged effigy is the Latin phrase ‘Hodie Mihi Cras Tibi Sic Transit Gloria Mundi’ which translates as My Turn Today, Yours Tomorrow. And Thus Passes Away The Glory Of The World.
On a side note, this phrase is used in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander historical novel series when Claire visits the tombstone of Lady Sarah Fraser at Beauly Priory.
A sleeping chamber for eternity, this graveyard is attached to St. Munn’s Church in the village of Kilmun. The village is located on the shores of the Holy Loch in the Scottish Highlands within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Gravestones are located not far from the shore and stretch beyond onto the hillside. What a beautiful serene setting.
All things once Are things forever, Soul, once living, Lives forever.
Let friends forbear to mourn and weep
While sweetly in the dust they sleep
This toilsome World they left behind
A Crown of Glory for to find.
Thy wish is granted thou art free from every earthly pain We miss thee but it would be wrong to wish thee back again. But we shall meet thee blest through aught Where partings never come where endless ages rolling fall Will find us all at home. – 1855