Friday, December 30, 2011

Old Tombstones

I have a thing for old cemeteries. Whenever I visit an historic town I search out church "graveyards".

Recently, we were in Charleston, South Carolina and I snapped these pictures in a very old churchyard.

I have seen many tombstones with angels on them, especially in New England, but these, with what appear to be portraits, really caught my eye. They were grouped together in one area...the oldest part of the cemetery. The stones were in bad condition, so it was difficult to read them so I could not tell if they were related.

I'm guessing these stones were carved using a portrait of the deceased. To me, they are works of folk art and are so beautiful.

Perhaps it was comforting to those who came to visit these souls, to see the likeness of their family member or friend right there in front of them as they paid their respects.

If anyone knows more about this type of tombstone, I'd love to hear from you.

                                                       Happy New Year!

Since posting these photos I was able to find out that these tombstones are, indeed, called portrait stones. However, they are not true likenesses of the deceased...more like a representation. Carvers used "portraits"...often carving the same signature face over and over...the same one for men, woman and child...only changing details to suit the individual being depicted. So, although they are called portraits, they were not meant to be a true likeness of the deceased.
This info was found in the essay, Early American Gravestones, by Jesse Lie Farber


  1. Happy New Year Robyn!!! I LOOOOOVE this post!!! Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful and very intersting tombstones!! I don't know anything about these, and have never seen any like them before, but I too have a thing for old cemeteries!! My favorite was the one in Salem, MA where the famous "Witch Trials" were held and the bodies of those poor innocent souls were laid to rest. I look forward to any updates on this post!!! Thanks so much...and again, a HAPPY and HEALTHY NEW YEAR to you and your family!! Tina

  2. Hi Robyn,
    This is such a wonderful post on these amazing gravestones!! I love the faces of each one and the precision and skill it took to create them! Thank you for sharing about interesting!!
    Thank you too, for visiting my blog and following! I am so glad you stopped by so I could meet you and in turn become your newest follower!!
    I wish you a very Happy and Creative New Year!!

  3. Such wonderful tombstones with such artistic details. Very interesting post....thanks for sharing.

  4. This are so neat.Love old churches and cemeteries.Stopping over from Laurens blog (Rugs and Pugs).Became a new follower as well.Warm Blessings!~Amy