In the Yard

Not only are the stones themselves quite beautiful, but so too are the cemeteries and graveyards in which they’re found. These cemeteries, located in Fitchburg and Worcester, Massachusetts, are some of the more visually striking that I have seen.



The Gravestone Girls

A week ago, I attended a lecture given by a member of Gravestone Girls, at the Leominster, MA library. It was a fascinating look at the three major eras of American gravestones that was as informative as it was entertaining.

The Girls’ website, where they sell their beautiful castings of actual gravestones is worth a look, as are – especially – their lectures.


Roses For Your Grave

The symbol of the rose has many meanings. The beauty of the rose lead to it represent romance and love. As far back as ancient Egypt, the rose has been associated with mythological goddesses, such as Isis, Eros and Aphrodite. As Christianity grew, the rose came to represent first the blood and wounds of Christ, and later Mary, his mother.

Many legends also state that the scent or sight of roses will prevent  dead from rising and keep the undead – especially vampires – from approaching.

Angelic Figures

Angels are found in many religions and cultures. They are often seen as messengers of God that travel between heaven and earth. They often appear on tombs or graves as an escort of the soul to heaven.

While the first images of angels appear in the 3rd century, the first  depiction of an angel with wings does not appear until more than a hundred years later, in the late fourth century, on a sarcophagus in Istanbul, Turkey.



Order of the Eastern Star

The Order of the Eastern Star is a fraternal order related to the Masons. One of the only fraternal organization open to both men and women, the Order boasts a membership of close to a half-million people. It was formed by Rob Morris in Boston, Massachusetts in 1850. Notable members include Clara Barton and Laura Ingalls Wilder.


The points of the star represent five heroines from the Old and New Testaments: Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha and Electa. The letters FATAL stand for the motto of the Order, “Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely.”



Besides expressions of religious belief and traditional symbols of mortality, gravestones often depict the interests and hobbies the deceased pursued in life.


Mourning and Growth, Life and Death

Willow trees – often called ‘weeping’ willows – became popular on gravestones in the early 19th-century during a revival on interest in the ancient Greeks and Romans. As symbol of mourning, they represent the grief of the deceased’s family.

More recently, other trees have become common on gravestones, often expressing a love of nature.