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Tombstone Meanings

Old Tombstone Carvings:

The term "Relict" on a tombstone means that the woman was a widow at time of death, consort means that her husband survived her.

"Cenotaph" engraved on a tombstone indicates an empty grave, with the stone erected in honor or memory of a person buried elsewhere - often erected in honor of a person lost at sea.

Meanings of Carvings:

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--- High-ranking 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--- Short-lived; Early Death
Full-Blown Rose--- Prime of Life
Palm Branch--- Signifies Victory and Rejoicing
Ivy--- Friendship and Immortality
Laurel--- Fame or Victory
Oak Leaves & Acorn--- Maturity, Ripe Old Age
Weeping Willow--- Emblem of Sorrow
Corn--- Ripe Old Age
Sheaf of Wheat--- Ripe for Harvest, Divine Harvest, Time
Poppy--- Sleep
Lamb--- Innocence
Dove--- Innocence, Gentleness, 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
Harp--- Praise to the Maker
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 and 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


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