Category Archives: Symbolism

St. Kessog Churchyard

The town of Luss is situated on Loch Lomond in Scotland. There is evidence that a Church has been here since the year 510 AD; however, the current building was constructed in 1875.

The graveyard is located close to the edge of the loch, and is full of interesting and very old moss covered gravestones including 15 listed ancient monuments.

In some instances the sculptor was mindful of space and used what nowadays we would refer to as ‘justified text’.

Luss (11)
Here lies the corpse of John Gay carpenter in Luss who died Feb 21 1761 aged 64 and also Cathrine Balfour his spouse who died Nov 16 1741 aged 38. This burial place appointed for Robert Gay son to John Gay and Agnes Macfarlan his spouse and his heirs.

The legends on the headstones are engraved using Olde English words and images of Memento Mori are visible on many of the stones.

Luss (13)
Eternity is represented by the circle and the crossbones symbolize death. The Greek style columns with a flat top denote a life cut short.

The following transcriptions are related to the image below showing a cross in the forefront and a gravestone in the background.

Luss (9)

His wife Caroline Anna Wyllie died 18th Jan 1914 Sacred to the loved memory of Andrew Wyllie for 12 years factor, on the luss estates died 1st February 1880 aged 46. No more death, neither sorrow. Rev 21,4

Sacred to the loved memory of Andrew Wyllie, for 12 years Factor of the Luss Estates. Died 1st February 1880, aged 46. “No more death, neither sorrow.” Rev 21:4

Luss (5)

Interred here the remains of John Macauslan late tenant in Wester Bannachra who died 3 January 1795 aged 69 years. Also John Macausland late farmer illegible Roseneath who died 11th Oct 1843 Aged 73 years.

colquhoun

In memory of James 11th Baronet of Colquhoun and Luss, born February 7th 1804, John Boyd born April 23rd 1829, James Spottiswood born March 1st 1832, Angus Macdonald born June 15th 1839, Thomas Anderson born June 25th 1856 who were all drowned together in Loch Lomond on December 18th 1873. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee. Isaiah XIII

Historic Note: On 18 December 1873, with three of his gamekeepers and a stable boy, Sir James sailed to the island of Inch Lonaig to hunt red deer with the intent of providing Christmas fare for his tenants and friends. On his return a sudden storm swamped the heavily loaded boat and all on board perished. They drowned in Loch Lomond within earshot of Rossdhu, the home of the Chiefs of Clan Colquhoun. Sadly, the cries for help were believed to be joyous boating cheers.

 

 

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Natal Chart

This unusual gravestone memorializes a Doctor of Medicine and more specifically a surgeon. The acronym F.R.C.S. denotes that the deceased earned a professional qualification to practise as a senior surgeon in Ireland or the United Kingdom. An additional acronym, F.R.C.S. c, identifies the Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Canada.

Puslinch_Crown (20)

The symbolic engraving is related to astrology and is known as a natal chart. The chart is 360°, the 12 zodiac signs are 30° each and the relationships (aspects) shared between the planets in the chart is determined by the distance of the signs they are in.

Puslinch_Crown (21)

If you are interested in astrology you may wish to click on the link below which, although identified as a chart for beginners, was beyond my comprehension and interest.

https://thenatalchart.weebly.com/blog/how-to-read-your-natal-chart-for-beginners

 

No Wall Shall Divide

In the 19th century, separation of Dutch society into groups by religion and associated political beliefs (known as pillars) meant that many people had little or no personal contact with people from another pillar. Within the graveyard of Roermond in the Netherlands is a dividing wall separating Protestant and Catholic burials.

Capture

Married for 40 years Colonel J.W.C. van Gorkum was a Protestant, and noblewoman J.C.P.H. van Aefferden was a Roman Catholic. When the Colonel died in 1880 his wife knew that society would not allow her to be buried next to him. The solution was ingenious. Van Aefferden made arrangements for the Colonel to be buried near the wall, and she would be buried in the same location on the other side of the wall.

Two hands clasping across the divide symbolizes their love and union, and no doubt a visual rebuff against Dutch society at the time.

findagrave

COL Jacobus Warnerus Constantinus van Gorkum (10 Jan 1809–29 Aug 1880)

het van

Josephina Carlina Petronela Hubertina van Aefferden (28 Jun 1820–29 Nov 1888)

het

 

Welsh Roses

These two stones are located in the Pantdu Cemetery, Cwmafan, Near Port Talbot, Wales.

The gravestone below shows a female hand (lace cuff) holding a single rose. The rose represents love and purity and the brevity of life on earth. Life, like a blooming flower, is never meant to be permanent. The deceased apparently suffered from a long illness before passing on.

In Loving Memory Of / Catherine / Wife Of John Webb / Who Died April 8 1894 / Aged 56 Years

Affliction Sore Long Time I Bore / Physicians Were In Vain; / Till God Was Pleased To Give Me Ease / And Free Me From My Pain.

Also The Above Named / John Webb / Who Died May 26 1915 / Aged 76 Years

For I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

Catherine webb
Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/145139093

The following headstone is engraved with three roses, one for each of the deceased. The stone is unusual in that the engraver added punctuation to the legend – not commonly applied.

In Loving Memory Of / Frederick, / The Beloved Son Of / John And Mary Jane Gamlin  / Pontypridd, / Who Died June 18 – 1893, / Aged 9 Months.

Short Was Our Little Darlings Stay, / He Came Just As A Guest, / Just Tasted Life And Fled Away, / To His Eternal Rest.

Also The Above Named / John Gamlin, / Who Died July 7 – 1950, / Aged 80 Years. / Also His Beloved Wife / Mary Jane Gamlin, / Who Died May 21, 1954, / Aged 81 Years.

Reunited.

frederick gamlin
Source: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/111992879/john-gamlin

Both stones were erected in the late 1800s, and yet one appears to have endured much better than the other.

TICK TOCK CLOCK

The hourglass and the sundial are symbols of time, and as such are often found within the cemetery. However, the perfect allegory for life and death is the clock identifying the passage of time. The clock face is a rare image and appears to have been most common in the late 1700s.

anarmchair
Source: https://anarmchairacademic.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/new-england-graves-time/

Here lies interred the body of / Mrs. Abigail Williams / the Relict of the / Rev M. John Williams of / this place. She died June y / 21st 1754 in the 82d / year of her age

gargoyles
Source: https://gargoylesandgrotesques.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/woodstock-hill-burial-ground-woodstock-connecticut/

Here lies the body of / Mrs. Abigail Paine / Relict widow of / Mr. Samuel Paine. / She died Jan y 13th / 1752 in the 80th / year of her age.

The design of these two gravestones is identical. Note the Memento Mori of crossbones and a pick and shovel. The numbers on the clock face are Roman Numerals. The hands are most often set in a vertical line pointing to 12 and 6. The meaning for this is unknown although a possible explanation is that it represents a dividing line between the earthly life and the heavenly life.

*Relict is an old English term for widow
* Y is an abbreviation of ‘the’

A more recent gravestone still indicates to 12 and 6 o’clock but the numbers are not Roman Numerals, and in the image below according to the engraving, it would appear to have been an actual working clock. My Father’s Clock Placed Here At My Request.

Sleephy Hollow NY

Another modern clock uses Roman Numerals yet it is set to a specific time, perhaps the time of death? You Shared My Dreams For The Future / You Shared My Past / You Were My First Love / And You Are My Last / We Met, Loved And Will Again / Whither Thou Goest I Will Go.

divine
Source: https://www.devinememorials.com/portfolio/grandfather-clock-headstone/

Recto Verso

Marcel Broodthaers, a Belgian poet and artist, who died in 1976, designed his own gravestone located in Ixelles Cemetery, Brussels. Engraved on both sides the front of the stone reveals that he was born and died on the same day and month;  there is speculation that he committed suicide and may have therefore designed his death.

with ref_front
Source: http://withreferencetodeath.philippocock.net/blog/broodthaers-marcel-tombstone-of-his-own-design-1976/

A phrase on the front of the stone, O Mélancolie Aigre Château Des Aigles, (Sour Melancholy Castle Of Eagles) is part of a line from one of Broodthaers’ poems. In 1968, he announced that he was no longer an artist and appointed himself director of his own museum, which he called the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles).

The back of the gravestone is a compendium of symbols, and is indicative of Broodthaers’ first solo exhibition in 1964 where he exhibited everyday objects, words, lettering and drawings.

withref
Source: http://withreferencetodeath.philippocock.net/blog/broodthaers-marcel-tombstone-of-his-own-design-1976/

This eclectic mix of symbols is accompanied by letters of the alphabet and the words, Moderato and Allegro which are both music tempos. The phrase Chez Le Droguiste Op Den Hoek appears to be Dutch and translates as, At The Druggist On The Corner.

In 1968 he used thin vacuum-formed plastic signs to create industrial poems with cryptic text and imagery. Academie I was one of those art forms relating geometric shapes to nature.

The clock at the top of the stone differs from similar symbols in that the Roman Numeral XII is outside the clock face. Both hands point to midnight yet one hand is also located outside the clock face.

A bottle, perhaps champagne, is marked with his birth year 1924.

One of his well-known works, Casserole and Closed Mussels, was created from accessible materials and everyday objects including eggshells and mussels. He published a poem on the subject of La Moule in which he described the mussel as a perfect creature which creates the shell which then contains itself.

A tobacco pipe emitting smoke is a reference to a painting, The Treachery of Images, by his friend and famous Surrealist Rene Magritte. It portrays an image of a pipe with the words, This is not a pipe.

The four geometric shapes reflect the 1966 Primary Structures exhibition in New York and Broodthaers’ later pronouncement that there are no primary structures.

And lastly, in the bottom right hand corner is the image of an open book. This reflects his first art object in which he embedded into plaster fifty unsold copies of his book of poems, Pense-Bête.

Spirit Houses

A graveyard at the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Eklutna, Alaska is filled with burial sites in the form of large dollhouses. Russian Orthodox missionaries who lived in the area in the early 19th century lived side by side with Athabaskan natives.

The Athabascan burial practice began with placing a blanket over the grave to comfort the departed soul. Forty days later a spirit box was placed on top. The size of the box was determined by social status and was painted with tribal colours. Athabascans believed that that which is taken from the Earth must be allowed to return and therefore the spirit houses were not maintained and left to decay.

People who were members of the church also have their graves marked with the Orthodox Christian Cross. The upper horizontal bar represents the inscription over the head of Jesus. The Middle Bar is the board on which the Lord’s hands were nailed, and the slanting bar represents the footrest.