25 February 2012


There are numerous resources available on the iconology of headstones, and even more websites. I prefer to use the tried and true... here are a couple good ones:

Stories Told In Stone: Cemetery Iconology by Gaylord Cooper (MOTES Publisher, 2009)
Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography. Keister, Douglas (photographer) (Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2004).

In my experience, you shouldn't be surprised at anything you see in a cemetery. Headstones are often designed to reflect the life of the deceased, or the emotions of those in the family left behind. Here are some typical and not so typical examples I have come across.

The lamb is typical of a child's grave.

Standard and simple flat headstone 
One example of a photo headstone.

Full grave marked by a headstone and a toe stone.

Ornate and large marker. This example is about 6 feet tall.

The rock. Often used in mountainous environments.

Another rock example.

Engraved picture, personalizing the marker.
This one with a snowboarder image.

The gates typically represent the entrance to heaven.
Military marker.
Older military marker.

Religious symbolism.

Heart shape on pedestal.

This is much more unique, designed to look
like a BLM marker. 

Top of BLM style marker.

One plaque, three names, with a rock to represent each individual. 

Headstone and "assumed" toe stones,
with a large gap in between and a drainage ditch of sorts.
The grave does not appear to extend from one side to the other. 
Another rock, but this one is quite large.
Approx. 4 feet across, and 2 feet high.

One of the few wooden markers I have seen with  surviving inscription.
A bench near a family plot, without engraving.
Intended just for sitting and remembering -
an invitation to those left behind.

Engraved bench memorial.

(All of the photos were taken at Valley Brook Cemetery, Breckenridge, Summit, Colorado. Photographer: Jen Baldwin. Copyright 2011, published.)

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