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Funerary Symbolism at Geelong Cemeteries Trust

You may have noticed special symbols and motifs found on headstones across cemeteries. Ever wondered what they mean? The monuments belong to different religions, ethnicities, professions and associations from our ancestors. Read on to explore some of the funerary symbolism found in the cemeteries of Geelong Cemeteries Trust.

The Angel symbolises the messenger of God, to man. Often, angels have their right hand raised to heaven.

The Urn is derived from the Latin word ‘to burn’ and is thought to symbolise immortality.

The Broken Column symbol means a life ended short or the head of the family passed away.

The Clasped Hands which symbolises an unbreakable bond that even death cannot sever. It also represents a final farewell from Earth in anticipation of reunion.

Dove – symbolises God, peace and serenity. Image courtesy of Josy Devienne Palmer.

The Columns/Pillars. If you walk through our cemeteries, you’ll notice them situated in our older areas. A column/pillar symbolises a notable person who has lived a complete and full life.

Draped Urn represents mourning. Some urns are draped with shroud cloths or are situated on an altar-plinth on elaborately lace-fringed altar cloths symbolising the shroud of Christ.

Scrolls in cemetery symbolism often appear unrolled vertically, representing the record of life traditionally being kept by angels, with the future hidden by the rolled bottom. A scroll can also suggest honour and commemoration. Image courtesy of Josy Devienne Palmer.

Ivy represents security, remembrance, immortality, faithfulness and friendship. Since it grows quickly, it also symbolises regeneration. Image courtesy of Josy Devienne Palmer.

The Cross is a very popular symbol seen around almost every cemetery. Most commonly, the form of cross symbolises faith and resurrection.

The Shrouded Cross – also known as the Draped Cross, Empty Cross, Risen Cross or Resurrection Cross. The draping indicates the last veil between earth and heaven. A cross that is draped may indicate the death of an older person.

An Anchor can have a multitude of meanings, one is a symbol of hope and steadfastness, and eternal life. It is often found on sailors’ headstones. Masons also used it as a symbol of well-grounded hope and early Christians used it as a disguised symbol of the cross.

If this interested you, we frequently explore different symbols and their meanings on our social media channels. Make sure to follow the Geelong Cemeteries Trust on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.

All images are the property of the Geelong Cemeteries Trust, unless stated otherwise.