Monday, August 16, 2010

OLD BURIAL GROUNDS

For as far back as I can recall I have always held a fascination for old cemeteries. I find the epitaphs on gravestones most intriguing along with their intricate detail and symbolic meanings. Two of the most interesting cemeteries (in my opinion) are located in Salem and Deerfield Mass. In Salem there is an area designated as the "Salem Witch Trial Memorial." You will view the grave site of Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Wildes, Elizabeth Howe, Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin and Sarah Good all condemed to death as witches with the date June 10, 1692 and the word HANGED on each epitaph. In the Old Deerfield Burying Ground which was started in 1637 holds a mass grave of 56 men, women, and children. All victims of the Feb. 29, 1704 attack on their village by French soldiers and Indian cohorts. The photos below are of two cemeteries located in Maine, one in York and the other in Pemequid. The angel face with wings represents "rebirth" or "resurrection" A angel is the guide to Heaven.

The pointing finger on this stone is interpreted as being "heaven sent"....

The Willow tree represents sadness and mourning.... A bud or branch broken represents an untimely death, most often a young person. A Thistle earthly sorrow... Lily purity.... Dogwood resurrection, sacrifice, and eternal life. Rose beauty... Poppy eternal sleep...Lily of the Valley purity, innocence, virginity...Grapes the blood of Christ. A Fern humility and sincerity.


an Urn represents the soul...

A winged skull symbolizes an ascension into Heaven....

A women's face with Ivy represents immortality and friendships.
The gravestone below is a craving of a women who was believed to be possessed...

thus the stone placed over her resting place was to prevent her soul from leaving it's grave.

A skull....death and mortality

Angel guide to Heaven.... Another variation of a winged skull....
winged skull with cross bones....mortality and death.... And this angel....well, I discovered her at the craft show I attended the other day. She is a cast from an old original gravestone....
I figure when my time on earth comes to an end, I'll follow her to Heaven.
What's on earth is shadows,
all beyond is substance.
~Mary Stickney~

15 comments:

Gail said...

Great post, I never knew simple art
could have these meanings.

Razzberry Corner said...

This is so very interesting! I love to visit old cemetaries & love to read all the gravestones. Now I know what their symbols mean! I'm gonna have to go look at the gravestone in my cemetary that came with the house- its got some vines or something on it. I'm going to look closer! Thank you for the lesson!

Farm Girl said...

That is just amazing I did not know all of those designs on a gravestone meant all of that. The grave yards on your side of the world are much older than the ones we have here. Of course there are Indian Burial grounds. When we were kids, my Mom had to stop at every old cemetery we went past. I would love to visit the one in Sleepy Hollow. Have you seen that one?

Pondside said...

That was so interesting! I have long been fascinated with graveyards, and studied many of them when doing my degree in Historical Geography - I really chose that major because I could spend all the time I wanted in graveyards and archives!

Kathy in KY said...

this is a really interesting post, julie. i also love old cemeteries, but have been to very few. i like to go to the ones where my past relatives are buried. i've been to the one in enochsburg IN where my g-great grandparents are buried, they came over from germany in the 1840's and their grave marker looks like a small washington monumnent, and some of it is in german. i'd love to take a rubbing of it, and may need to travel there on a day trip and do just that. the cemetery where i grew up - on of the catholic cemeteries is where a lot of my relatives are buried, but very little engravings,just very simple stones.
you've peeked my interest, and i'll have to go to the cemeteries here in KY that have my Dad's side of the family members buried there. i remember one burial marker in a cemetery that was carved to look like a tree stump - so interesting - thanks so much for sharing.

Leigh said...

A very Cool Post!

chook said...

very interesting post and great photos!

Finegan Antiques said...

I'm a HUGE fan of early gravestone art. Whenever I travel out East and I come across an old cemetary I have to stop and walk around it. A great one is in Marblehead, MA and Old Burial Hill in Plymouth, MA. I just came across this neat blog www.vastpublicindifference.blogspot.com It's great.
Thanks for sharing your trip.

Donna

Jemm said...

I love cemeteries and old gravestones too. It's funny that they felt the need to put DIED on the gravestones. Do any say ALIVE! HAHA! I love the carvings. Very ornate and it's too bad modern ones aren't usually so pretty. Very interesting.

Dog Trot Farm said...

Donna, I'll have to check out the two old cemeteries that you mentioned, thank you. It's nice to know other people find old gravestones as interesting as I do. I do not find it to be morbid at all. People of long ago seem to have put a lot of thought and effort into their art work and personalized wording on their epitaphs.

Anonymous said...

oh, so exciting! I have a friend that also loves visiting old cemetaries!! Awesome! Maybe we could meet up and check some out the next time I'm DownEast...so fun! We have an old one in our town, right in the town center and it's just fascinating to me. Have you ever done any rubbings? Let's do it, it would be so fun...and perhaps the autumn is my VERY favorite time of year to go exploring in them, something about the crunching leaves and cold air makes me feel...hmm... I don't know, maybe reflective? ~Vonnie, NH

DayPhoto said...

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE THIS POST! I too enjoy old cemeteries and reading tombstones. A very well done blog post!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Rural Revival said...

What an interesting assortment of such detailed markers. I love old graveyards too, they are so full of history. Great post!

Hope the bats are gone! Yikes!

~Andrea~

Primitives By The Light of The Moon said...

Wonderful post loved reading about the tombstones!

Eve said...

Great post Julie! I want to go see these with you someday!