Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So I was chatting

with another blogger the other day about something unrelated and for some reason I ended up sharing that a willow tree on a tombstone is often the symbol of child's grave (I forgot to tell him that it is especially the case where there is a lamb under the tree).

So that goes to show - don't take the frog queens words as gospel :D

This past weekend I put several roses on a gravestone, just to give it a try and realized that I put things on my tombstones in a more aesthetic fashion rather than meaning.  I was curious to know if there is meaning behind what is on a tombstone.

So I asked a friend who knows these things and got this very cool list.  Just had to share.

Arches = Victory in Death
Arrows = Mortality
Bouquets/Flowers = Condolences, grief, sorrow
Buds/Rosebud = Morning of Life or Renewal of Life
Roses = Brevity of earthly existence
Portals =. Passageway to eternal journey
Bugles = Resurrection and the Military
Crossed Swords = Highranking military person
Flying Birds =  Flight of the Soul
Fruits = Eternal plenty
Garlands = Victory in death
Imps = Mortality
Shells =  Pilgrimage of Life
Thistles = Remembrance
Tombs = Mortality
Trees = Life
Trumpeters = Heralds of the Resurrection
Willows = Earthly Sorrow
Morning Glory = Beginning of Life
Butterfly= = Shortlived; Early Death
Full Bloom Rose = Prime of Life
Palm Branch = Signifies Victory and Rejoicing
Ivy = Friendship and Immortality
Laurel =  Fame of Victory
Oak Leaves and Acorn = Maturity, Ripe Old Age
Weeping Willow =  Emblem of Sorrow, Early Death, Deep Sorrow
Corn =  Ripe Old Age
Sheaf of Wheat = Ripe/Divine Harvest, Time
Poppy =  Sleep
Lamb = Innocence
Dove = Inn., Gentle, Affection, Purity
Cherub =  Angelic
Cross = Emblem of Faith
Anchor/Ships =  Hope or Seafaring profession
Broken Ring =  Family Circle Severed
Broken Column = Loss of Head of Family
Torch Inverted = Life Extinct
Urn with Blaze = Undying Friendship
Handshakes =  Farewell
Hearts = Soul in Bliss or Love of Christ
Horns =  The Resurrection
Hourglass =  Swiftness of Time
Open Book/Bible = Deceased Teacher, Minister, etc.
Lily or Lily of Valley = Emblem of Innocence, Purity
Tree Stump w/Ivy = Head of Family; Immortality
Urn with/Wreath or Crepe =  Mourning
Stars & Stripes Around Eagle =  Eternal Vigilance, Liberty
Hourglass w/Wings of Time = Time Flying; Short Life
Candle being Snuffed =  Time, Mortality
Coffin, Father Time, Picks/Shovels, Darts = Mortality
Hand of God Chopping = Sudden Death
Winged Effigies = Flight of the Soul

Very cool information. I am definitely putting a thistle on my next tombstone.  This is the simple list.  I will work through the rest of the book and elaborate more on some of the symbols.


  1. How very cool!!! Thanx for all the info!! :0) And I appreciate the work that went into this post!

    Happy Haunting!

  2. Oh, I'm definitely going to put this post and the last one to use! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thats very interesting. I have also known the symbolism stood for different things but thats the first time I've ever seen a list. Pretty cool. I want a Jack-o-lantern on mine, wonder what the means? That I'm a Halloweenoholic!?!

  4. I know that babies' and children's gravestones in the 1950s often had lambs on top of them -- at least in Canada that was popular.

  5. i love things like this... thanks for the sharing of info...

  6. I picked up this book from Amazon called "Stories in Stone,"...


    This is an excellent field guide for perusing thru cemeteries. Your list pretty much backs up what's in this book. Plus, there's a bunch of unusual trivia bits...

    For example, whenever you see a bushel of wheat on a tombstone, that means that person was more than 80 years old when they died.

    Also, you know those tombstones that look like tree stumps? Those were very popular during the turn of the century when there was a whole 'back to nature' thing going on and people wanted cemeteries to look more 'natural.' How popular were they? So popular that your could order your own in advance from the Sears & Roebuck catalog!

  7. I had no idea, but should have figured there was meaning to it. Thanks for sharing that with us. Very interesting.

  8. Hollygoyle - thanks for the info. Definately going to get that book.

    Thanks for the info on the tree tombstones. I have often wondered what those were. I had only seen them in the US so I knew they had to be something special.

    I am sifting through a cool old book with all kinds of funeral information...so more tombstone info to follow.


  9. Oh yes, I plan to steal this too.

  10. Very cool information. And timely to something I am soon to post as well. I will print this list out and add it to my Halloween Grimoire! Did I miss 'skulls' in that list? I saw 'winged effigies' and the skulls I usually see are winged. I love those the most. Thanks for posting.

  11. Most of the tree stump gravestones are for a fraternal order. The Woodmen.
    The trees are my favorite design from a fraternal organization.


Blog Archive