The practice of marking graves has been around for thousands of years, with stones and boulders being placed on graves to protect the remains of the deceased from wild animals and also, as the superstitious believed, to prevent the dead from rising.
Graves were normally situated around the family home but eventually the idea of a cemetery evolved with the Church recognising burial as a valuable source of income. By the 19th century, due to the increase in the population and the first cholera epidemic, public health issues were brought to the forefront and overcrowded churchyards became a menace. Overcrowding was such that in some cases corpses were buried only two feet below the surface. Cemetery building increased but these were privately owned and financed by shareholders and there was increased public dissatisfaction. A second cholera epidemic in the late 1840's forced the government to act and in the 1850's a series of burial acts were passed which eventually established a system of public cemeteries.
Along with the development of the public cemetery, the Victorian era saw the birth of elaborate memorials and gravestones carved with symbolic images, some of a religious nature and some personal to the deceased. The images were easily understood in an age when literacy was limited. To the family historian, the inscription and symbolism contained on the gravestone is invaluable to their research, building up a more detailed picture of their ancestor, as well as an expression of love and remembrance.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail of the stonemason is impressive and inspired MGCTP team member, Spatts, to collect a series of photographic examples of these symbolic images which we have interpreted in this gallery.
Quote from Bible
Illustration of Quote
Mourning, Older Person, Life Extinguished
Soul in Flight
Coffin, Palm Leaf
Mortality, Victory of Death, Resurrection
Honest, Long & Productive Life
John C4, V1-26
Guide to Heaven, Messenger
St John then Evangelist, Fierceness
Innocence, Untimely Death
Tree & Urn
Square & Compass
Masonic Symbol, Freemason
Rose & Flowers
Earthly existence, Death, Resurrection, Purity
Resurrection, Beauty, Youth & Love
Scriptures, or the Law
Earthly existence, Beauty
Hope, Life Eternal, Mariner
Innocence, often on grave of child
Premature Death, Younger Person
Resurrection, Purity, Innocence
Symbolic blood of Christ
Latin, Jesus Saviour of Life
Harp broken String
Representing a of break in mortal life
Lily of the Valley
Purity, Innocence, Virginity