Thursday, October 30, 2008

Memento Mori, 18th and 19th century grave stones

Memento Mori

We have some of the country’s oldest graveyards here in Massachusetts. I found the art of the headstones very interesting. There are obvious fads that come and go. The headstones I’m presenting here are from the 18th and 19th century. I’ve tried to display a wide verity of styles. You can see the trends change about every 20 years and you see the same trends throughout the region.

It is worth mention that these were real people. They settled in an pioneer area, lived through and died in wars. This is part of our heritage and each stone is a national treasure.

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse
Above is a head stone and below is the matching stone at the foot of the grave.

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse


(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse




(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse



(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse



(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse



(c) 2008 ShootingMyUiverse

Finally, sadly, these headstones are not going to last for ever. These 18th and 19th century head stones on slate hold up much better than the late 19th and 20th century marble statues. But there were variations in slate quality and many have split and disintegrated with the weather.

I found a couple of useful sites for headstone symbolism:
Symbols on Headstones Demystified
Headstone Icons, Symbols and their Meanings.

6 comments:

Sara G said...

Very interesting post. I love to walk through cemetaries and read the old stones. Never really photographed them though. I might do that next time!
Take care and I have really enjoyed looking around your site.

Eve said...

These are really amazing Steve! A woman in our area has taken upon herself to restore Watertown NY's cemetary which is very old, like this one. It was in very bad disrepair and she has made it into almost a park setting with donations from the public. "Adopt a plot" she calls it. She has gotten Bird Club and Garden Club members involved as well and now it is full of flowers and bluebird houses...and people respecting these beautiful graves!
Thanks for the great post!

John Theberge said...

Very interesting. It's amazing how young a lot of these people were when they died.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Beautiful craftsmanship, the art of which is lost today. I like what Eve wrote about someone restoring an old graveyard....a wonderful idea.

Steve B said...

Hi Sara, Thanks for stopping by, you're welcome any time.

Eve, Joan and John, I kept the post limited to stone that could be read. It really comes down to the quality of the stone. The marble stones from the 19th century and early 20th century will not be with us for very long. Some slate stones have split along the grain. The stones in one graveyard in East Gloucester were all not photographable.

The carving ranges from primitive to refined. This relief style carving is fascinating. I get a kick out of the abbreviations and special characters that were used and how fast they came and went.

I’m glad that you folks are spending some time to read the stones.

Oh, "memento mori" was found on a few stones but I couldn't post all of them.

Best regards.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
I don't post a lot of comments but love your work and am in awe of your ability to get great bird shots. I hadn't noticed the gravestones before, but I must confess to being a big fan of old cemeteries. Some people might think it is morbid, but I love the tranquility of old graveyards along with the heightened sense of our mortality in the context of 'visiting' the final resting spots of so many generations that have proceeded us.

Bob

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