Cemetery & Graveyard Research Guide

Resting Places

Cemeteries are not attached to churches.


Graveyards are attached to churches.


Outlying Graves are outside of the cemetery or graveyard proper, because the person was not part of the Christian faith, or committed some perceived horrible deed, especially suicide. They may or may not be oriented to the rising sun, a tradition stemming from the belief that Judgment will come from the direction of the rising sun.

Burial

Crypts are underground chambers where the deceased are interred.

 

Mausoleums are usually for the public, and are usually a building where multiple deceased are interred side-by-side, and on top of one another. Columbariums are buildings where cremated remains of the deceased are interred.

 

Sarcophaguses are stone, above-ground coffins.

 

Tombs are usually for families, and is usually a small building where the deceased are interred side-by-side, and on top of one another. They often have a coping, or stone, low-hanging roof, over them.

Grave Markers

Bolsters are usually cylinders that rest at the footing of a grave. A headstone lies at the head of the grave, and a footstone is a simple stone, at the foot of the grave. If the footstone has the deceased’s initials, it is called an initial stone.

 

Grave Fences are metal, stone, or concrete fenced off areas, erected to designate plots for family.

 

Ledger Stones are stones that cover the whole grave, and were once used to cover the grave of a deceased person who was interred in a wooded or remote area, where remains could possibly be scavenged by wildlife.

 

Urns indicate that the cremated remains of the deceased are interred in that spot.

Tombstone Shapes

Angels that are praying represent an appeal to the Divine to admit a person into Heaven. A sitting or standing angel is an appeal to angels to watch over the soul of the deceased.

 

Apples indicate an educator.

 

Arches represent the passage and admittance to Heaven.

 

Beds or Pillows represents that the deceased is finally at rest.

 

Beehives indicate a member of the Freemasons and Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

 

Benches are often erected by the severely bereaved.

 

Bodies Sleeping usually indicate that the family feels that the deceased is temporarily at rest.

 

Broken Columns indicates life cut short.

 

Butterflies represent the transformation of the body into a soul.

 

Chairs that are empty represent a great loss in the family.

 

Circles represent eternal life.

 

Dogs represent loyalty, and is an appeal for a supernatural force to watch over the soul of the deceased.

 

Draped or Veiled Columns or Urns represent mourning.

 

Empty Furniture represents an unfulfilled life, and usually indicates the resting place of a child.

 

Hearts represent love or relationships. A single heart represents love and affection from the bereaved. Double hearts usually indicate a couple who were married in life.

 

Lambs indicate a child’s grave.

 

Lions represent Divine might, and is an appeal to the Divine to watch over the soul of the deceased.

 

Obelisks represent a show of finances in the part of the bereaved.

 

Orbs represent oneness with the universe.

 

Pianos represent uplifting the spirits of the bereaved, and usually indicates the resting place of a pianist.

 

Scrolls represent life, time, and wisdom. If either end is curled up, it usually indicates that a part of the persons life should remain hidden. It is often held by a hand, indicating the desire of the bereaved that the deceased’s name will be recorded in the Christian “Book of Life”, and the soul will be admitted into Heaven.

 

Teardrops usually represent the grief of the bereaved.

 

Tree Trunks or Stumps represent a life cut short, but indicates the resting place of a member of the Modern Woodmen of America or Woodmen of the World.

 

Triangles represent the Holy Trinity.

 

Triquetras represent the Holy Trinity.

 

Waterfalls represent life everlasting.

 

Urns represent the soul.

 

Women:

  • Clinging to a Cross is usually a show of wealth by the bereaved for a deceased family member who lived a life outside of the church.
  • Holding an Anchor, and with one finger usually pointing toward the sky, represents the soul’s journey to Heaven.
  • Holding a Cross indicates a wealthy and devout deceased individual.
  • Weeping or Robed usually indicates a wealthy woman’s grief over the loss of the deceased.

Headstone Symbols and Their Meanings

Acorns and Oak Leaves represent patience in faith.

 

All Seeing Eyes is engraved on a Freemasons tombstone.

 

American Flags are usually engraved on a military veterans tombstone.

 

Anchors represent hope, but can also be engraved on a sailor's tombstone. A broken chain or rope indicates life cut short.

 

Angels represent innocence, and are usually engraved on a child’s grave. Angels blowing trumpets represents victory over death, and admission into Heaven. A flying angel represents the flight of the soul to Heaven.

 

Anvil and Hammers are usually engraved on a blacksmiths tombstone.

 

Axes represent a life cut short, but is also often engraved on the tombstone of a member of the Woodmen of the World.

 

Balloons are often engraved on the tombstone of a child that has passed away.

 

Bells represent the desire for the Divine to admit the deceased into Heaven, instead of waiting for Judgment.

 

Bibles or Books indicate a member of the clergy.

 

Bird:

  • Doves represent love and peace. A dove with an olive branch in its beak represents admission into Heaven. A dove with a cross in its beak represents the Holy Spirit. An ascending dove represents the soul leaving the earthly plane. A descending dove is an appeal for the Holy Spirit to retrieve the soul, and admit them into Heaven.
  • Ducks represent crossing over to the spiritual plane.
  • Eagles are engraved on a person who served in military or a particularly patriotic persons tombstone.
  • Hummingbirds are a reminder from the bereaved to appreciate the time that we have left.

 

Boats or Ships represent crossing over into the afterlife, but can be engraved on a sailors tombstone.

 

Caduceus is engraved on a doctors tombstone.

 

Candles represent the hope that the deceased will be guided to Heaven.

 

Chains that are broken represent a loss in the family.

 

Compass and Squares indicate a Freemason.

 

Corn represents rebirth, and are occasionally engraved on a farmers tombstone.

 

Cornucopia represents someone who lived a rich and fruitful life.

 

Crosses are a symbol of Christianity.

 

Crowns represent triumph over death, and are usually engraved on a tombstone for a person who attended church regularly. A crown with a cross is sometimes engraved on a Freemasons tombstone.

 

Eastern Star is engraved on a Freemasons tombstone.

 

Father Time and the Weeping Virgin represents a life cut short.

 

Ferns are usually engraved on a tombstone for a person who was perceived to be exceptionally humble and sincere.

 

Fish represent Christianity.

 

Flowers:

  • Calla Lily represents rebirth.
  • Daisies represent innocence, and are usually engraved on a tombstone of a young person.
  • Dogwood Blooms represent resurrection.
  • Easter Lilies represents resurrection.
  • Lily of the Valley represents purity and innocence.
  • Morning Glory Blooms represent renewed life.
  • Passionflowers represent Jesus.
  • Poppies represent eternal rest, and are usually engraved on tombstones of those who passed during conflict.
  • Roses are usually engraved on the tombstones of children. The more open the bloom is, the longer the child lived. A broken stem usually indicates a very young child.
  • Sunflowers represent devotion, and are usually engraved on a tombstone for a person who attended church regularly.
  • Tulips are usually engraved on the tombstone of someone who was considered particularly elegant and graceful.

 

Frogs represent rebirth.

 

Garlands represent victory over death.

 

Gates represent passage into Heaven.

 

Grapes represent Jesus, and admission into Heaven.

 

Hands:

  • Clasped Hands represent union in death, either with the Divine, or with a spouse that has already passed away. It was also used by early Freemasons and Independent Order of Oddfellows.
  • Hand Pointing Up represents admission into Heaven.
  • Hand Pointing Down is usually engraved on a tombstone of a non-religious person, or person who led a life outside of the norms, or someone who has committed suicide, as an appeal for the Divine to reach down and admit them into Heaven.
  • Hands Reaching Down represents admission into Heaven.
  • Hands Holding Hearts are typically engraved on the tombstone of a person who was considered charitable and generous in life, but can also indicate that the deceased was a member of the Shakers religious movement.
  • Hands Praying represent devotion to the Divine.

Harps represent life cut short.

 

Holly represents Christianity.

 

Horses and Horseshoes are usually engraved on tombstones of persons who worked closely with horses. A white horse symbolizes that the person was a hero in life.

 

Hourglasses are a reminder to the still-living that they too will pass away.

 

Infinity Symbols represent eternal life.

 

Ivy represents friendship.

 

Keys represent the desire of the bereaved that the deceased will enter the nicer parts of Heaven.

 

Keystone with Letters HTWSSTKS, which stands for, “Hiram The Widow's Son Sent To King Solomon”, is engraved on a Freemasons tombstone.

 

Knots represent marriage.

 

Ladders or Stairs represents the souls ascension into Heaven.

 

Lambs represent Jesus. If the lamb is standing, with a banner, it represents admission into Heaven. If it is sitting, it is a plea to judge the person innocent, and admit them into Heaven.

 

Lamps or Lanterns are usually engraved on a deceased persons tombstone as an attempt to convert others to their religious beliefs.

 

Laurels represent the bereaved left behind by the deceased.

 

Lighthouses represent guiding souls to the afterlife.

 

Lizards represent regeneration.

 

Mountains represent constancy, eternity, firmness, and stillness.

 

Musical Instruments or Notes are typically engraved on a musicians tombstone.

 

Oxen represent strength, but can sometimes be engraved on the tombstones of persons who crossed vast expanses of land in covered wagons, to find a new home.

 

Palm represents victory over death, and admission into Heaven.

 

Peacocks represent the desire for incorruptibility of the deceased persons body.

 

Pentacles are engraved on the tombstones of a person of the Wiccan faith.

 

Phoenixes represent resurrection.

 

Pinecones represent everlasting life.

 

Plows represent the end of life, and are often engraved on the tombstones of farmers.

 

Rings represent marriage. If they are interlocked, the couple stayed together in life. If they are broken, however, it means they were divorced.

 

Roosters represent Jesus, and are an appeal for a supernatural force to watch over the soul of the deceased.

 

Scales are usually engraved on the tombstones or judges.

 

Sacred Hearts represent divine intervention, charity and piety.

 

Star of David, or the Seal of Solomon, or a Hexagram represents a person of Jewish faith.

 

Scythe and Hourglasses, sometimes carrying arrows, represent death itself. They are reminders that the still-living that they too will pass away.

 

Shoes, with one usually overturned, indicates the tombstone of a child.

 

Skulls are reminders that the still-living that they too will pass away.

 

Suns represent life everlasting. Most engravings are of a sunrise or sunset, symbolizing death.

 

Swans represent eternal peace and tranquility.

 

Torches with Flames represent a guiding light, and life everlasting. An inverted version of this represents death, and decay of the flesh.

 

Trains represent journey to the afterlife.

 

Trees that are broken represent a life cut short.

 

Wheat represents death.

 

Willow Trees represent mourning and loss.

 

Wreaths represent victory in the afterlife.

Tombstone Inscriptions

Alpha and Omega represents the Divine.

 

Chi Rho is the first two letters in the Greek name for Jesus, and represents Christianity.

 

Deo Vindice means, “God will vindicate”, and is engraved on a Confederate Soldiers tombstone, or an iron cross.

 

IHS is the name of Jesus is Greek, and represents Christianity.

 

In Hoc Sigino Vinces means, “In this sign you shall conquer”, and is engraved on a Freemasons tombstone.

 

Testina Lente Edax Rerum means, “Make haste slowly, time devours all things”, and is engraved on a tombstone to remind the still-living that they too will pass away.

Tombstone Patterns

Eggs with Darts are common on edges of tombstones, and represents resurrection.

Vermiculation patterns, also called worm tracks, are a reminder of bodily decay.

Items on Graves

Coins:
Pennies mean that a civilian stopped to pay their respects to a deceased military personnel.
Nickels mean that someone that attended the same boot camp visited a deceased military personnel.
Dimes mean that someone who served with a deceased military personnel visited the grave.
Quarters mea that someone who served with a deceased military personnel, and the deceased died when they were with the still-living, visited the grave

 

Food at a gravesite means that the person is trying to sustain the soul of the deceased.

 

Stones or Pebbles on a grave or tombstone are a Jewish tradition to honor the deceased when they visit the gravesite.

 

Three X’s indicates the grave of someone who practiced Voodoo, and the person visiting has made a wish that they hope the spirit will make come true.

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page
© Old Harmony Paranormal Research

E-mail