Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography


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Certain symbols abound in modern Western culture that are instantly recognizable: the cross signifies Christianity, the six-pointed Star of David is revered by Jews, the golden arches frequently means it's time for lunch. Other symbols, however, require a bit of decoding-particularly those found in cemeteries. Cemeteries are virtual encyclopedias of symbolism. Engravings on tombstones, mausoleums and memorials tell us just about everything there is to know about a person- date of birth and death as well as religion, ...

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Ray M

Dec 28, 2013

Genealogist's Treasure

There is so much symbolism embedded in the tombstones of our ancestors; and so much that we don't even notice is there, without a guidebook to show us what we don't know to look for! This is that book. Filled with pictures and examples of the icons used in funerary art, from the simple to the complex designs incorporating multitudes of symbols intertwined into a full story of the life of the deceased, this book helps you read and tell their story.

One common motif is the weeping willow tree, which seems to suggest grief and sorrow. But the willow is one of the more common symbols used to suggest immortality. The tree is known to flourish and remain whole no matter how many branches are cut off. Frogs, however, are usually almost hidden, symbols of the Biblical plague passed on those who are unclean or possibly evil. And there's so much more!

Whether you're simply curious about what you see as you drive by, or if you're a serious genealogist looking to learn the secrets of your ancestor's life, this book is a true treasure for anyone who ever visits a cemetery. Want to know how to tell your story to future generations? This book is an endless source of how the symbolism of the tombstone can tell so much more than just the dates surrounding the "dash" that represents our lifetime.

We all get one last chance to make a lasting impression, and this is the one book to have if you want to learn to read and understand the full story in the tombstone.

Janet K. S

Jul 14, 2011

Loved It

This is a must-have book for any cemetery lover. It thoughtfully and inclusively provides notes about the symbolism behind funerary art used on gravestones and monuments. I have been waiting for this book for years and am thrilled to own a copy. And I have given copies to several friends who are similarly disposed toward cemeteries.


Apr 14, 2011

Essential Reading

A compact beautifully presented guide to the symbology found in cemeteries. A wide range of material is covered, with numerous illustrations. It is an essential handbook for anyone interested in cemeteries around the world.

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