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Glossary of Symbols and Terms for Studying Cemeteries

Angel, flying Rebirth; Trumpeting–call to the Resurrection; Weeping–grief AE An abbreviation for Aetatis, or years of life
Arch Victory of life over death, or victory in death B.P.O.E. Benevolent Protective Order of Elks
Bird Eternal life. Birds in flight–flight of the soul Catacomb An underground network of chambers with recesses in which to place the dead
Candle, flame Life Cemetery A place for burying the dead
Columns, Doors Heavenly entrance Columbarium A vault with niches for urns containing ashes of the dead
Crown Glory of life after death Consort A husband alive at the time of his wife's death
Dove Purity, devotion C.S.A. Confederate States Army
Figs, Pineapples Prosperity, eternal life D.S.P. (Latin) Died without children
Flower Frailty of life. Severed blossom–mortality D.V.P. (Latin) Died in father's lifetime
Garland Victory D.Y. Died young
Hand pointing Heavenly reward Epitaph An inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried
Heart Love, mortality, love of God Footstone A stone marking the foot of a grave
Hourglass Time's inevitable passing G.A.R. Grand Army of the Republic
Lamb Innocence Gravestone A stone that marks a grave
Pall, Pick, Spade Mortality Headstone A memorial stone set at the head of a grave
Rooster Awakening, the Resurrection H.S. (Latin) Here is buried
Scythe Death; the divine harvest I.H.S. Greek spelling of Christ
Shell The Resurrection, life everlasting Inter To bury or put a dead body into a grave
Skull, skeleton Mortality I.O.O.F. Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Sun setting Death Mausoleum A large stately tomb
Sun shining/rising Renewed life O.E.S. Order of Eastern Star
Thistle Of Scottish descent Obit Died
Tree Life. Tree sprouting–Life everlasting. Severed Branch–Mortality Obit Sine Prole Died without children
Vine The sacraments Plat/plot A small piece of ground
Weeping Willow Nature's lament Potter's Field A place where unknown persons are buried
Winged Face Effigy of the soul of the deceased Relict A widow
Winged Skull Flight of the soul from mortal man Sarcophagus A stone coffin, often ornamental
Wreath Victory Sepulcher A place of burial
Wheat Sheaves The divine harvest V.F.W. Veterans of Foreign Wars