New England Gravestones and the Iconography of Death

Ancestral New England gravestones tell a visual story of changing cultural beliefs over the course of two hundred and twenty five years.

Using gravestones and memorial markers from my Colonial New England ancestors, regional differences and changes in iconography emerge over the course of time. These changes can often be directly related to historic events. Issues surrounding status, representation, and cultural values also emerge as a themes.

Elizabeth (Trowbridge) Mirick

A stylized death's head on it's way to becoming a winged effigy.

Lt. William Hescy (Hasey)

This stone was carved by Joseph Lamson, this stone features a winged skull, crossed bones, an hourglass, pinwheel and ornamental grapevines.

Elizabeth Hasey

Carved by Joseph Lamson, this stone features a winged skull, coffins; crossed bones; Imps, hourglass. Revere, Mass

Ruth (Besse) Besse

This stone's unique carving features a primitive face with flipped hair in a keyhole shape. The face has no mouth. Footstone also.

Mary (Ball Shores) Nasson

Carved by Lamson, this unique stone features a portrait of Mary Nasson, hair piled high, wearing a low-cut, flowing dress. A footstone and full length body stone are a part of this burial. Old York Burying Ground.

Hannah (Burge) Dutton

This stone features a life-like face in a niche surrounded by spiral designs. Possibly carved by Park (?)

Thomas Eustis

Winged Skull.

Capt. Joseph Fuller

Captain Fuller's stone is quite similar to that of his wife's and features. Note the use of 1739/40 calendering.

Ruth (Jackson) Fuller

This stone features a soul effigy with a human-like face and stylized wings. A decorative border crowns the effigy.

Abigail (Warren) Wright

This stone features a winged skull crowned with a decorative element resembling lace. It also includes pinwheels and stylized naturalistic forms.

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