Headstones: More to them than just names and dates.
A genealogist in a cemetery is like a kid in a candy store! Often we are so excited to copy down all the names and dates on the headstones that we overlook another source of valuable information. We may not realize that the symbols on headstones hold clues to the lives of our ancestors.
Cemeteries are full of symbols that mean much more than just their decorative function. Symbols were placed on headstones for a specific purpose by family members or the deceased ancestor themselves. These symbols tell us something about the person buried there. They can represent what our ancestors valued or what message they wanted to communicate to their posterity. .
For example, an open book on a headstone can represent a bible or a person of faith. A closed book can represent a life completed. A dove can be a sign of a soul at peace, purity or devotion. Drapes can represent sorrow, mourning, death or a life ended early. It could also represent a “veil” between heaven and earth. .
These symbols are a thought provoking window into the soul of the person buried there and can lend great insight into our ancestors’ lives.
For an interesting list of grave stone symbols and their meanings, visit http://iagenweb.org/ringgold/cemeteries/gravestonesymbols.html
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