Tower Hamlets Cemetery
Victorian Memorial Symbols
Take a look around any of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries and you'll notice intricate symbols on headstones - but what do they mean?
Anchor and Chain: symbolises firm faith in salvation
Bird (often a dove)
Book: The Testament, often open at a suitable page
Broken column: cut off in the prime of life or a loss of support, often denotes head of the family.
Broken or severed flower: A sign or early or sudden death. A severed bud denotes a child.
Butterfly: A symbol of resurrection
Celtic cross: Originally associated with the pre-Norman Church particularly in the Celtic fringe areas.
Circle: The sign of eternity.
Clasped hands: Found on family graves and symbolising either the hope of reunification in the next life or 'Farewell, see you soon.'
Gate or arch: Gateway to Heaven.
Heart: Love and devotion.
Hour-glass: The transience of this life.
IHS The sacred monogram: an abbreviation of the word for Jesus in Greek.
Ivy: Memories remaining evergreen.
Lamp: The light of knowledge and truth.
Laurel: Wreath Accolade to life's achievements.
Lyre: (harp) A recognition of musical talents.
Obelisk: A tall rectangular or triangular pointed column which is the ancient Egyptian symbol for life and health.
Palette: and brushes The artist's accolade.
Palm: Symbolises the triumph of life over death through resurrection.
Rocks: A reminder of St Peter, the rock of faith.
Rose: Goodness and innocence.
Serpent: Ancient Egyptian symbol for life and health. Swallowing tail: life eternal
Set square and compasses: Usually a Masonic mark but also used to denote an architect.
Torch: The human being.
Tree: The tree of life
Upright: Human Life Entwined by snake: Health Inverted: Life extinguished (hence 'snuffed out')
Urn: Symbol of death copied from cinerary urns of antiquity.
Willow tree: Mourning.
Yew tree: evergreen, life after death
last updated: 09/04/2008 at 14:41