The Meaning Behind Headstone Symbols

Headstones and grave markers date back thousands of years and usually marked the burial site of an entire family however with the rise of Christianity headstones began to be used as grave markers causing the rise of symbolism on a loved ones grave or headstone. 

Listed below are some of the most popular headstone symbols and the meanings behind them. .

Celtic cross: represents Irish heritage and eternity 

Candles: are a popular symbol of life, especially eternal life for the departed.

Angels: Angels are popular gravestone symbols. Many are depicted doing something like dropping flowers or pointing to the heavens and tend to represent a kind soul or guidance through life. 

Basket: Baskets symbolize fertility or a mother’s bond. Often appearing on a women's grave or recently deceased mother. 

Hourglass: The Hourglass was a symbol of the passing of time.
Beehive: are often used for deceased loved ones for spent time working for the church

Bench: This motif represents a space of mourning and contemplation 

Anchor: An anchor often represents a person's time spent at sea or that they are sworn to a loved one 

Birds: A bird on a gravestone symbolizes the flight of the soul.

Books: This is one of the more common gravestone symbols and usually represents the Bible.

Broken chain: A broken chain symbolizes a life that has ended, or a family that has been saddened by a loved ones passing

Trees or tree stump: This symbolizes a life cut short or sudden untimely death.

Church: A church carving was reserved for a minister or a pastor.

Circle: Circles are symbols of everlasting life and or eternity 

Rose: Roses are symbols of love, motherhood, and virtue, while rosebuds symbolize youthful death.

Clock: a clock is usually used to present a loved ones time of passing and or arrival

Column: A broken column represents a life cut short, usually symbolizing a sudden death. A complete or unbroken column could mean a full life.

Doves: Doves are a symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit and are often used in reference to the Bible.

Evergreen: An evergreen tree represents remembrance and faithfulness.

Scale: These are often carved on the graves of solicitors and judges. They mean “justice” or “law”.

Fruit: A carving of fruit represents eternal plenty in the afterlife.

Harp: Harps are symbols of worship and or pride to Ireland.

Clasped hands: This carving symbolizes the welcoming of the soul into the heavenly afterlife.

Heart: A heart carved on a gravestone often represents romantic love between family members or loved ones 

Horse: Horses symbolize courage and generosity. and tends to be used on farmers or horse lovers graves.

Horseshoe: A horseshoe could be a symbol of protection from evil or mean that the dead loved horses in life.

Key: The key symbolizes the entrance to heaven providing access behind heavens gates. It can also mean knowledge.

Lamb: Symbolizing innocence, these carvings are often seen on children’s graves.

Lamp: Lamps symbolize knowledge and spiritual immortality.

Lily: A calla lily means marriage or resurrection

Lion: They represent “courage”, “power”, and “strength”.

Shoes/Footprints: Shoes are usually found on children’s graves. They are often empty or overturned, symbolizing the loss of a child.

Star: a star represents divine guidance 

Thistle: Thistles are the flowers of sorrow, remembrance, and Scotland.

We can also say with pride that because of your generosity Kelly Cowin Memorials is the highest rated headstone provider in Ireland and we appreciate every single person who has given up their time to leave us a review. At kelly cowin memorials we pride ourselves on our expertise, professionalism and quality of our work, We specialise in all new headstones, additional inscriptions and all renovation works with over 12 years experience working with all types of different materials such as granite, quarts, limestone, sandstone and marble.



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