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Symbolism of The Wheat Sheaf

Wheat symbolizes the fertility of the earth, renewal, rebirth and abundance. It can also represent the long and fruitful life enjoyed by the deceased.

To Christians wheat represents the body of Christ, and is therefore symbolic of immortality and resurrection. When paired with grapes it is a symbol of the Eucharist.

It is sown in weakness
It is raised in power


Our nails are drove
Our work is done.


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


Till the day break

Wheat lamb

Behold the pilgrim as he lies with glory in his view,
To Heaven he lifts his longing eyes and bids the world adieu.  1886


Snakes and Skulls

Skulls are an acknowledged symbol of death and mortality. The skull represents our physical life now ended.

The image of a snake weaving through the eye socket is very popular with artists in particular tattoo artists. However, it’s meaning is not as dark as it may seem. The snake is symbolic of renewal perhaps because of its ability to shed its skin. When combined with a skull it indicates that there is rebirth and resurrection.

The Death’s-Head Skull, usually a depiction without the lower jawbone, was emblematic of bawds, rakes, sexual adventurers and prostitutes.

St. Brelade’s Graveyard

On the south of the island of Jersey at the western end of St. Brelade’s Bay is the parish of St. Brelade. Legend states that the area designated for the church was a sacred site to the fairy folk, and during the building of the church foundations, stones and workmen’s tools were removed a mile away to the beach. The workmen moved all the stones and tools back to the original site, but the following morning, everything had been moved to the beach again.

St. Brelade’s church is located between the farming community of Les Mielles and the community of St. Aubin. The date of the present church is unknown, but it is mentioned in deeds of patronage in 1035.

The original churchyard surrounding the Parish Church was extended in 1851. During World War I German Prisoners of War from the Blanche Banques Camp at St. Ouen were buried in the Strangers’ section (northern part of the chuchyard). During the Second World War the Germans occupied Jersey and a war cemetery was created in St Brelade’s churchyard.


In 1961 all the German soldiers, 337 bodies from the war cemetery, and 10 from the Strangers section, were exhumed and reburied in the German Military Cemetery at Mont de Huisnes, France. The churchyard is now closed for all new burials.


Eilidh Marsali Macfarlane-Barrow, as the eldest of six children of Reverend James Humphrey Copner Macfarlane-Barrow and Alice Maie Campbell-Orde, is listed in a genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain. Born on 31 July 1919, she died unmarried on 24 August 1968 at age 49.

Her stone marker is situated in a small graveyard in the grounds of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Rosewell, Midlothian, Scotland.

Pray for the soul
Marsali Eilidh
Born 31-7-1919 at Lochgilphead
Died 22-9-1968 at Rosewell
Our loving sister whose life on earth
Was one of innocence and simplicity
So kindly cared for by the devoted
Sisters at St. Joseph’s Rosewell
May the power and majesty of the Lord
Enliven her soul for all eternity in
The kingdom of Heaven.
Cloir do dhia anns ma h-ardaibh         
Erected by her brothers – 1998

Rosewell_St. Josephs (2)*Translation of the Gaelic phrase is Worship your god in Heaven

St Joseph’s Hospital was a custodial institution established in 1924 by the Daughters of Charity (Roman Catholic nuns). The institution catered to children and adults with learning disabilities until it was closed in 1999. The nuns who operated under the banner of St. Vincent de Paul Society are currently being investigated for the abuse of patients in their care.

Pretty Loch Leven Graveyard

Village of Ballchulish in Lochaber, Scotland

St John’s Episcopal Church located at the foot of Glen Coe on the shore of Loch Leven has to be one of the most picturesque locations for a graveyard. In late May and early June, the grounds are blanketed by a sea of bluebells.

Within the grounds a small stone storehouse with slate roof surmounted by a wooden cross was converted to a chapel in the late 1700s. The existing church was built in 1842.

Most of the graves marked by cast iron botonee crosses are identified only by a number.

Many of the gravestones were made from durable slate, hence the clarity of engravings and dedications.

City of the Dead

The Cairo Necropolis is a cemetery covering four miles in Cairo, Egypt. It is a dense grid of tomb and mausoleum structures which house the graves of the deceased. Many of the inhabitants choose to live there to be close to their relatives. However, more than half a million inhabitants exist due to homelessness as a result of unemployment, overpopulation and earthquakes. Generations of families live there, some people living their entire lives with the dead.

The Necropolis is an active cemetery and burials still take place as inhabitants watch on. It is illegal to live there yet the government has given up on evictions, and now many of the buildings within the cemetery have running water and electricity. Within are bakery shops, cafés and markets, and as with all small cities there is crime.

Curious Chinese Traditions

Across central China in the remote valleys to the south of the Yangtze River, you will find the most unique burial places. The hanging coffins are suspended so high that they are often barely visible from the ground below. They have been discovered in crevices of the cliff face, anchored on limestone rock about 30 meters high (almost 100 feet), balanced on wooden cantilevered stakes, or stacked in man-made caves 300 feet up in Guizhou province, a landlocked, mountainous province in central south China.

This ‘burial’ practice was followed by Yao and Miao minorities in the region. It is believed that the higher the coffins were placed, and therefore closer to Heaven, the greater the respect of the deceased. The suspension of the coffins slowed down decomposition of the body which ensured afterlife and immortality of the spirit; and on a more practical aspect it prevented animals from poaching the bodies and kept land free to farm.

The practice of hanging coffins can also be found in the Philippines, most famously in Sagada.

Another curiosity of the Miao ethnic group is the belief in a supernatural power around them that decides their fate. The Miao worship tree spirits and equate human life cycles with those of trees. Firs are the only wood used for burial and only firs over 60 years old are large enough. Therefore, villagers plant trees for themselves and their descendants every year. New parents plant a fir sapling from which their children’s future coffin will be carved.

Following the burial another young tree is transplanted atop the grave site – this is the only marker for the deceased – transforming what should be a cemetery into a forest of trees.