Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Grave Look at History

Last week when I arrived back from holidays my copy of A Grave Look at History - Glimpses of a Vanishing Form of Folk Art by Lionel Gilbert had arrived from AbeBooks.

I am a frequent visitor to AbeBooks both for work and my genealogy research. For those who are not familiar with AbeBooks it is a fantastic source for used, rare and out of print books. Wikipedia states that AbeBooks lists books from 12800 booksellers in 57 countries. I often purchase books for my school library for students who are completing individual research projects, particularly in history.

My latest purchase is a book I remember looking at years ago - A Grave Look at History - Lionel Gilbert (1980) (NLA catalogue).

Of particular interest are the chapters titled, Styles Symbols and Skills,  Letters and Figures, Epitaphs and Rails and Pickets.

What clues can you interpret from your family headstones? The Victorians loved symbolism and many headstones in our cemeteries have many symbols in their designs. Is their profession represented symbolically? What does a torch mean? Why is the column cut in half? Did you know that a poppy represents sleep?

There are several sketches which illustrate Norman, Gothic, Victorian, Edwardian and Celtic monuments and the book also has a large number of photographs each with an accompanying description which can assist you in "reading" headstones.

A very handy book to help you analyse your family headstones.

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