Churchyard Headstones and Symbolism

Churchyard Headstones and Symbolism

Apart from the name of the deceased and the date of their demise, many of the slate headstones from the late 17th century and early 18th century have images and patterns carved on them, which are  examples of symbolism and each one has a meaning. The featured headstone shows a lady leaning on an anchor. This is not, as many people think, a reference to a nautical connection – it is, in fact, a depiction of “Hope”, of “Faith, Hope, and Charity” fame. It represents a quotation from Hebrews, chapter 6 verse 9: “Which hope we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast..”. Many pubs named “the Hope and Anchor” have a sign featuring a ship, which is  incorrect.

Around the image is what appears to be a vine. This is a representation of the “tree of Life”, and can be found on many of the headstones.

A link to the definitive book on Swithland Slate Headstones by David Lea can be found in the Resources section.