Genealogical Data

Gravestone Markings

the meanings of

Often when looking at headstones, tombstones and gravestones you will notice symbols, some of which are obviously there to represent something about the deceased.

Now, with this little list you will have a tool to decipher the meanings.

Anchor/ships Hope or seafaring profession
Arches Victory in Death
Arrows Mortality
Bouquets/flowers Morning of life or renewal of life
Broken column Loss of head of family
Broken ring Family circle severed
Bugles Resurrection and the military
Butterfly Short-lived; Early death
Candle being snuffed Time, mortality
Cherub Angelic
Coffin, Father time, Picks/shovels, Darts Mortality
Corn Ripe old age
Cross Emblem of faith
Crossed swords High-raking military person
Dove Innocence; Gentleness; affection; Purity
Flying birds Flight of the soul
Fruits Eternal plenty
Full-blown rose prime of life
Garlands Victory in death
Hand of God Chopping Sudden Death
Handshakes Farewell
Harp Praise to the maker
Hearts Soul in bliss or love of Christ
Horns The Resurrection
Hourglass Swiftness of time
Hourglass with wings of time Time flying; short life
Imps Mortality
Ivy Friendship and immortality
Lamb Innocence
Laurel Fame or victory
Lily or lily of the valley Emblem of innocence and purity
Morning glory Beginning of life
Oak leaves & acorn Maturity, Ripe old age
Open book/Bible Deceased Teacher, Minister etc.
Palm branch Signifies Victory and rejoicing
Poppy Sleep
Portals Passageway to eternal life
Roses Brevity of earthly existence
Sheaf of wheat Ripe for harvest; Divine harvest; time
Shells Pilgrimage of life
Stars and stripes around eagle Eternal vigilance, Liberty
Thistles Remembrance
Tombs Mortality
Torch inverted Life Extinct
Tree stump with ivy Head of family. Immortality
Trees Life
Trumpeters Heralds of the resurrection
Urn with Blaze Undying friendship
Urn with Wreath or Crepe Mourning
Weeping Willow Emblem of sorrow
Willows Earthly sorrow
Winged Effigies Flight of the soul


This list has been doing the rounds of newgroups for some time and the original source is unknown.



1997-2018 Jenny Brandis

Researchers please acknowledge and cite in regards to references from this website