Halloween is coming! In honor of the spooky holiday, I’m participating in Bish Denham’s The Listing Hop* with ten graveyard facts.
1. The word graveyard and cemetery are interchangeable. However, technically, a graveyard is located within a churchyard.
2. In the west, many gravestones face east. This way they (the dead) face the rising sun.
3. Obelisks began showing up in American graveyards in the 1840s during a period of Egyptian Revivalism. Obelisks were associated with greatness and patriotism. They were also cheaper than intricate sculpted monuments.
4. Graving is the hobby of searching out and often photographing specific graves for genealogy or curiosity about the rich and famous.
5. A cenotaph is a marker or monument erected in honor of a person whose remains are elsewhere. It may also be a marker at the initial grave site of a person who has been reinterred elsewhere.
6. An epitaph is a phrase, poem, or statement inscribed on a gravestone.
7. The images carved on gravestones have different meanings (though they are open to interpretation), for example:
- anchor: hope
- broken flower or tree: life cut short
- chain with a broken link: loss of a family member
- cross: faith
- hand with the index finger pointing down: God reaching for the soul, often in association with an unexpected death
- hand with the index finger pointing up: hope of heaven
- hourglass on its side: time stopped for the deceased
- mother and child: charity
- skeleton: life’s brevity
- winged hourglass: time flies
8. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the anxiety of being buried alive was elevated to new heights. With cholera and yellow fever epidemics and less than ideal medical care, people feared premature burial. To combat this, safety coffins were invented. These coffins came equipped with a bell that one could ring if they found themselves in this most unpleasant situation. Often fresh air came in through a hatch as well. There are no documented cases that anyone ever needed the bell.
9. In 1816, the mortsafe was invented to keep out grave robbers and Resurrectionists who supplied medical/anatomy schools with bodies.
10. Ghouls live in graveyards where they consume human flesh.
Okay, that last one may not be fact as much as myth. I’ll let you decide.
Do you have any graveyard trivia to share?
Foxes like to nap in cemeteries!