Stories in Stone

The Stories in Stone walking tour highlights popular monument styles found in 19th-century cemeteries such as Cedar Hill. Examples include:

Draped Urn
Maslen & Co., Hartford
Wickham & Smith Lot (Section 5, Lot 45)
The urn and willow tree were two of the first funerary motifs to replace death’s heads and soul effigies often found on gravestones in 17th– and 18th-century burying grounds. Part of a neoclassical tradition that began in the 1760s, usage of the urn and willow were part of a trend toward sentimentality in mourning art.

In the 19th century, the urn becomes three-dimensional. The drape is a symbol of the veil between earth and heaven.

 

Obelisk
Batterson & Canfield Company, 1874
Day Lot (Section 1, Lot 21)
The obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top. Obelisks were prominent in the architecture of ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrance of temples. The obelisk represents the sun god Ra, symbolizing eternal life.

The Egyptian Revival style, fashionable throughout the 19th-century and into the 1920s, incorporated motifs and imagery of ancient Egypt. Napoleon’s campaign into Egypt (1798-99) included a scientific expedition resulting in publications in the early 19th century. These publications led to the incorporation of Egyptian motifs such as the obelisk, hieroglyph, sphinx, and pyramid into architecture, decorative arts, and cemetery art.

 

Sarcophagus
John Moffit, Sculptor, 1875
Griffin Stedman Monument (Section 1, Lot 40)
A sarcophagus is a container for the body, but unlike a coffin it is designed to last for eternity.

In Ancient Egypt, a sarcophagus formed the outer layer of protection for a royal mummy, with several layers of coffins nested within. Sarcophagi were also found in Greece and Rome. Christian Europe used sarcophagi for important figures, especially rulers and leading clergy. They were often placed in churches.

Over time the lack of space made sarcophagi impractical in churches, but chest tombs or false sarcophagi placed over a burial became popular in cemeteries and churchyards, especially in England in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Sarcophagi were popular in American cemeteries during the last quarter of the 19th century. An ornamental monument, it is rare to find a sarcophagus that actually contains a body.

 

Celtic Cross
Mills Lot (Section 2, Lot 65)
The Celtic cross is a form of a Christian cross that emerged in Ireland in the early Middle Ages. It is essentially a Latin cross with a nimbus or halo surrounding the intersection of the arms and stem.

The Celtic cross’ origin is in Gaelic Ireland and was introduced to Scotland, Wales, and parts of England by Irish Christian missionaries. The cross originally was used to mark sacred locations or to spread the Christian message. It is most commonly seen in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries in the 9th to the 12th centuries. The cross gained new popularity during a 19th-century revival, which resulted in the name Celtic cross.

View this video to learn more about the Celtic Cross.

 

Exedra
New England Granite Works, 1912-14
Heublein Lot (Section 12, Lot 32)
An exedra is a curved bench. In ancient Greece, exedras were often used in public squares and were popular spots for the gathering of philosophers and teachers. They were also used in Greek burial grounds.

In American cemeteries, excedras were popular in the late 19th century up until the 1920s.

 

Ciborium
Morse Lot (Section 3, Lot 53)
In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a freestanding canopy or covering supported by columns, which stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church.

The ciborium was used for public monuments most notably the Albert Memorial in London. Queen Victoria commissioned a monument in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861. Located in Kensington Gardens, the memorial features a statue of Albert. In cemeteries, the central statue is usually a figure representing memory, faith or hope, or an angel.

 

Through a partnership with CemeteryFind, Cedar Hill offers public access to burial listings, including a mapping feature. Clicking on the link Cemeteryfind.com will take you to the website.