Grave Symbols & Hump Day Happenings

deathMany years ago my husband and I volunteered to care for an abandoned country cemetery not far from our home. We like cemeteries mainly for their history, but also for the love people have left there. He and I were both born and raised in Chicago where old cemeteries are these amazing  monument parks dedicated to love. 

On the National Register of Historic Places, Chicago’s Rosehill cemetery is one of the most impressive of all the Victorian Cemeteries around the city. As a hub of trade and commerce, Chicago had more than its share of well-heeled Victorian industrialists and financiers. That being the case, many well-known Chicagoans are buried at Rosehill amid small-trunked oak trees. Off topic but interesting, those trees were stunted by the sandy nutrient-poor soil but are actually hundreds of years old. Many of Rosehill’s beautiful monuments are famous for their eccentricity. Some people say the place is haunted. 🙂  This site gives a small view.

So… back to our cemetery stewardship. Basically, that job consisted of mowing and trimming. The small forgotten plots don’t have the resources for their care as larger cemeteries do. Vandalism and neglect take their toll. If you’re interested, your local historical society can get you involved. Here’s a site devoted to grave preservation:

One day, we discovered a headstone that had fallen forward to be covered over by time and soil, a headstone that hadn’t been inventoried before. When we stood it upright, we discovered a beautiful poem and a carving of a woman’s hand in the act of pouring water from a pitcher. I saw the symbolism there, but no ready resources existed at the time to tell me what it meant.

Have you ever walked a cemetery and wondered about that stone lamb or concrete tree stump? What’s with the sculptured hands, beehives, weeping willows, and burning torches?

Burial symbology has been around for about as long as there have been burials. A recent discovery of a 12,000 year old female shaman’s grave suggests she had a greater connection to the afterlife. It’s also hard to miss the focus on the afterlife in the archaeological remains of Ancient Egypt. Comparatively speaking, our western cemeteries don’t look a smidge as interesting. But…were you to look closer…you’d discover cemeteries are filled with all manner of symbols. Those images mentioned above all have deeper meanings. Learn how to read them and you’ll see life stories in microcosm. The following links will help you read the small stories that head stones, crypts, and monuments tell. Fascinating stuff. Tuck some of these into your novels. 😀

I once created gifts for my two children based on these symbols — kits for taking rubbings off old headstones. The companion book, one in each kit, took me a little more than two months to compile, and in it all the symbols, themes, and iconography associated with death that I could find. It was a fun project.
How to: Thin quilter’s muslin works better than paper. So does Pellon interfacing. Blue painter’s tape won’t damage the stone. Melt some crayons and pour in a paper cup to harden to get yourself a nice large crayon hockey puck to work with. Rub gently, the image will eventually darken. Be extra careful not to get wax on the stone. Clean up after yourself.
Tomorrow: More!

It’s Wednesday and time for Hump Day happenings around the web.

91cb7-bee1Hump Day Hook

Books Hooks NEW!
Horny Hump Day

First Kiss Wednesday


Another 100 Things Blogging Challenge! For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 78 entries to come.

Here’s one for today:

Weequashing (noun first seen 1888-1902)

spearing of fish or eels by torchlight from canoes

4 Us iconToday we have author Desiree Holt’s interview.

All through January the RB4U authors are doing interviews. The thoughtful questions are a great way to get to know us. Commenting that day gives you a chance to win a collectable t-shirt. Come see!

Right now the COLD SNOW, HOT ROMANCE CONTEST is on! Three winners will each receive a $25 gift card for Amazon/Barnes & Noble, and split the other prizes randomly picked from prize list. Be sure to check all our pages for news about authors and their books, publishers and their books, and industry representatives.



First Kiss Wednesday ~ share your best 300 word kiss today!

Several promotional opportunities for romance authors can be found on my Exquisite Quills group blogs. Meet the founding authors and our guests.

Exquisite Quills Yahoo Group

First Kiss Wednesday ~ share your best 300 word kiss.
Set the Scene in Six~ share your backdrop or lead-up on Sundays.
The Genesis of a Book ~ share the spark that ignited your novel
Author Interviews ~
We’re booking late spring now.

Coming soon ~ Tempt Us Tuesday

EQ-RR.banner Today’s author: Cassandra Carr
A new place for your old stars to shine 😀


all7books-smallLove Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories

Sample my love stories for free!



About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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16 Responses to Grave Symbols & Hump Day Happenings

  1. Sandy says:

    What a fascinating topic, Rose. I love walking through cemetaries and looking at the stones in our small town. The names are familiar, and I know the families of today.

    I was in Egypt, and your right about their cemetaries being so different. They build shelters or homes over the graves to protect them. Often, there’s actual people living in those shelters. The history there is amazing.

  2. Sandy says:

    Yes, I was in Egypt years ago. It was amazing to see all of the temples, the Pyramids, Cairo’s museum, Valley of the Kings. We took a cruise on the Nile! Amazing trip even though my step-daughter nearly got us thrown into prison with her antics. That’s another story though. lol

    • It sounds fabulous. I’m glad you all dodged that bullet. Egyptian prison ..yikes.

      • Sandy says:

        Yes, we dodged that bullet, but only because of our tour guide getting everyone out of there before they were ready to go. The whole tour group was mad over that episode because you are supposed to follow the rules when you’re in another country.

  3. Amber Skyze says:

    Fascinating topic, Rose. Can’t wait to read more tomorrow. 🙂

  4. My favorite cemeteries are in Ireland. I love the old crooked crosses, tall Celtic crosses, and crumbling grave stones. Some are beyond ancient, and the old hawthorn and yew trees add a creepy sensation along with the brooding dark weather. If ever you go to Ireland and want a great ancient graveyard experience, go to Glendalough in County Wicklow. The area has much to offer besides the cemetery as well, but the sense of antiquity along with the remaining round tower is enough to make you feel transported to another time. Time travel!

    What an adventure you had in Egypt, Sandy! I’ve always wanted to go there but waited too long. I feel now is not the time. Perhaps it will cycle around again.

    • I plan on making a few rubbings there if I can. I’ll get my hockey puck of crayon through security somehow. lol I read once those Celtic crosses were actually ancient surveyor tools.

  5. Sandy says:

    Gemma, Egypt was a trip to remember for many reasons. I could tell you stories. lol I love Ireland, when I visited there. One of my favorite trips.

  6. melissakeir says:

    I love the post. I’m always visiting my family in the cemetery and often wonder about the symbols and images. It seems like they spent a lot of time creating the wonderful monuments to their loved ones, but I wonder if they have deeper meanings.

  7. Ray Getzinger says:

    I used to live near Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern NC. I used to go there to read what was on the headstones and mausoleums. My house at the time was built over the period 1771 to 1773. Many of the previous owners were buried there. One of the monuments was to crew members of a shipwreck who never came home. The public library had a book containing the text of all the graves up to the date of publication.

    There is an interesting story about the Arch at the front gate.

    Your blog made me think of a cemetery I have not been able to visit for years.

    Ray G

    • The Weeping Arch of New Bern. What a great story, Ray. Thanks for sharing. In one of my county’s cemeteries there is a drummer from the American Revolution. You can glean a lot of history from cemeteries. We had a cholera epidemic here, for example.

  8. rosgemmell says:

    How fascinating, Rose – we have lots of very old burial sites around Scotland and I love the Celtic symbolism,but I’ve only examined the odd grave stone here and there. Will look out for more!

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