Alabama Genealogy & History Network

Alabama Tombstone Symbols & their Meanings

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        Acorns - Power; Authority; Victory. Often seen on military graves.

        Alpha and Omega - The beginning and the end.

        Anchor - Hope; Steadfastness.

    Anchor, Sextant, & Cross Staff - Could mean the person was a Mariner.

        Anchor with Crossed Canons - Confederate States Navy.

        Anchor with Chain or Rope - Emblem of the United States Navy.

        Anchors, Double with Shield - United States Coast Guard.

        Angels - Spirituality; Guardians of the tomb.

        Angel, Flying - Rebirth; Resurrection.

        Angel, Praying - Advocate asking God for mercy on behalf of the deceased.

    Angel, Trumpeting - Rebirth; Resurrection.

        Arch - Victory in death; Door to Salvation.

        Arches, Double Stone - Being Rejoined in Heaven With Partner.

        Arrow(s) - Mortality; Death.

    Axe, Knife, & Cleaver - Could mean the person was a Butcher.

    Awl, Knife, & Nippers - Could mean the person was a Shoemaker or Cobbler.

    Barber Bowl & Razor - Could mean the person was a Barber.

        Bee Flying with Gun - Seabees (US Navy)

        Beehive - Symbol of Mormonism; Masonic symbol of productivity.

        Bells & Doves - Marriage.

        Bellflower - Gratitude

        Bible - The Holy Bible is often found on the tombstones of Christians.

        Bird - Eternal Life.

    Bird Flying - Ressurection.

    Books, Holy - Often found on the tombstones of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). Two books indicate the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Three books represent the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

        Books, with or without Apple - Could mean the person was a Teacher.

        Book, Open - Book of Life.

        Butterfly - Shortened life.

    Candle (snuffed) - Loss of Life.

        Candle, Burning - Everlasting Life.

        Castle - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

        Chain, Broken Links of - Death of a Spouse.

        Chain, Three Links - Grand United Order of Oddfellows

        Chalice - Sacrement.

        Cherubs - Innocence.

        Chi Rho - The first two letters, X (chi) & P (rho) in the Greek word for Christ.

        Child, Sleeping - Grave of a young child; Not dead, just sleeping.

        Circle of Leaves - The Circle (Womens auxillary - Woodmen of the World)

        Clover, Four-Leaf - The 4H Club.

        Coffin - Mortality.

        Column, Broken - Decay / Loss of the Head of the Family

        Compass & Square - Masons.

        Corn, Stalk of - Could mean the person was a Farmer.

    Coulter (hoe) - Could mean the person was a Farmer.

    Crescent - Muslum faith.

        Cross - General Symbol of Christianity. Represents the Ressurection to many Christian religions.

        Cross with Crown - In Alabama it is usually a Christian symbol of sovereignty of the Lord.

        Cross with Flames - Symbol of the Methodist Religion.

        Cross with Jesus Christ - The Crucifixion; The Sacrifice of Christ.

        Cross, Bontonee - The Trinity.

        Cross, Celtic or Irish - Episcopalians call this the Celtic Cross, while Catholics call it the Irish Cross. Often used to denote the graves of Monks or Priests.

    Cross, Crusader's - Symbol used by Europeans during the Holy War against the Muslims.

        Cross, Egyptian or Coptic - Used by the Gnostics and the Copts, it was devised from the ancient Egyptian symbol, ankh, which symbolizes life.

    Cross, Greek - Most commonly known as the symbol adopted by the International Red Cross.

    Cross, Jerusalem - Adopted by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is another cross from the Crusades.

        Cross, Maltese w/ Firefighter Equipment. - Firefighters Emblem.

    Cross, Orthodox, Patriarchal, or Eastern - The top cross bar represents the sign "Jesus Christ, King of the Jews", placed on Jesus' cross by the Romans.

        Cross, Presbyterian - Presbyterian Religion.

        Cross, Roman or Latin - Came about as a result of the Great Schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

        Cross, Southern Cross of Honor - Usually found on the tombstones of Confederate Veterans.

    Cross, St. Andrew's - According to legend, when St. Andrew was martyred he claimed he was not worthy to be hung on a cross shaped as Jesus' cross. He requested that this shape be used for his execution.

    Crossed Swords - High Ranking Military Person.

        Crown - The soul's achievement and the Glory of life after death.

        Crown with Cross - In Alabama it is usually a Christian symbol of sovereignty of the Lord.

        Crown with Knight's Head, Crossed Swords, Moon & Stars - Order of DeMolay.

        Curtains / Drapes - Mourning; End of Life on Earth.

    Daffodil / Narcissus - Rebirth and Ressurection.

    Dart w/ figure - Mortality.

        Deer - Outdoorsman; Hunter.

        Dog - A Master worthy of love; Dog lover; Hunter

        Dove - Innocence; Peace.

    Dove, Ascending - Soul rising to heaven.

    Dove, Dead - Premature death.

    Dove, Decending - Decent from heaven to accompany soul to heaven.

        Dove, Dive Bombing with Twig - Holy Ghost.

        Dove, Flying - Ressurrection.

        Dragonfly - Immortality and regeneration.

        Eagle - U.S. Postal Service.

    Eagle with Stars & Stripes - Eternal vigilance and liberty.

        Eagle and Shield on Fleur de lis - Boy Scouts of America

        Eagle Clutching Arrows with Shield - United States Army.

        Eagles, Double w/ pyramid & the number 32 - Emblem of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Masons (32nd Degree).

        Eye with Sunburst or Triagle - Masonic Symbol.

    Flail - Could mean the person was a Farmer.

    Flame - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

        Fleur-de-Lis - Faith, wisdom and valor; The Trinity, passion and love.

    Fruit - Eternal Plenty; Fruit of Life.

    Garland - Saintliness; Glory; Victory in Death.

        Gates - Pearly Gates; Entrance to Heaven.

        Grapes / Grapevine - Blood of Christ; Sacrament.

    Grim Reaper - Personification of death.

    Hammer, Anvil, & Crown - Could mean the person was a Blacksmith.

        Hammer & Square - Could mean the person was a Carpenter.

        Hand, Pointing Up - Pathway to Heaven.

        Hands with Rosery Beads - Symbol of the Catholic Religion.

    Hands, Blessing - Blessing those remaining behind.

        Hands, Clasped - Farewell.

        Hands, Holding - Unity of Marriage.

        Hands, Praying - Asking God for Eternal Life.

        Hands reaching for the Lord's Hand - Faith that the Lord will help us to Heaven & Eternal Life.

        Harp - Praising God.

        Heart - Love; Affection of the living for the dead.

    Heart, Sacred - Commonly found in Catholic Cemeteries. Representative of the suffering of Christ for our sins.

        Hearts, Two interlocked - Marriage.

        Heart and Rose in Cupped Hands - Organ Donor.

    Horns - The Resurrection.

        Horse and Rider superimposed on Globe. - United Methodist Clergy

        Hourglass - Time has expired; Brievity of Life.

        "I" made with railroad tie - Employee of Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.

        Ivy - Immortality; Friendship.

        Lamb - Innocence. Usually marks a child's grave.

        Lamp - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

        Laurel - Worldly accomplishment; Heroism

    Light - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

        Lily - Flower of a Virgin; Purity & Innocence.

    Lion - Courage. The Lion's eternal watch guards the tomb.

    Loom, Shuttle, & Stretcher - Could mean the person was a Weaver.

        Medal, Ribbon with Heart & likeness of George Washington. - Purple Heart, a U.S. Military medal given to soldiers wounded in action.

        Medal, Ribbon with 5-Pointed Star. - The Bronze Star, a U.S. Military medal awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service.

        Menorah - An Emblem of Judaism.

        Militia Soldier w/ Rifle & 5 Stars - Army National Guard.

        Morning Glory - Beginning of Life.

        Mortar and Pestle - Pharmacists (sometimes Doctor).

        Navy Seal - United States Navy.

        Oak Leaves - Power; Authority; Victory. Often seen on military graves.

        Palm Branch - Victory; Rejoicing.

        Pine Tree, Cones, Branch, and/or needles - Immortality.

        Poppy - Eternal Sleep.

    Rake & Spade - Could mean the person was a Gardener.

        Ring - Marriage.

    Ring, Broken - A Family Circle has been severed.

        Rings, Interlocked - Marriage.

    Rod - Comfort for the Bereaved.

        Rooster - Awakening; Resurrection.

        Rose, Fully opened - Death in the prime of life.

        Rosebud - Death early in life.

        Rosemary - Remembrance.

    Scales - Could mean the person was a Merchant.

        Scimitar & 5-pointed Star - Emblem of the Shriners.

        Scimitar with Rose & Crescent - Daughters of the Nile.

    Scythe - Harvest of death.

        Sissors, Brush, Razor, &/or Comb - Person was probably a Barber / Hairdresser / Beautician.

        Skull or Skull & Crossbones - Death.

    Spade or Spade crossed with Shovel - Death.

        Spinning Wheel - Heroines of Jericho (Masonic).

        Spinning Wheel over Distaff filled with Flax - Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Staff - Comfort for the Bereaved.

        Staff of Aesculapius w/ wings & the letter "V" superimposed (Caduceus) - Veterinarian.

        Staff of Asklepios with wings & double snakes (Caduceus) - Medical Doctor.

        Staff of Asklepios with wings, double snakes & the letter "D" (Caduceus) - Doctor of Dentistry.

        Star - The Order of the Eastern Star (Masonic).

        Star - The Light of the Spirit overpowers death.

        Star of David - International Symbol of Judaism.

        Star, 5-Pointed with Wreath & "US" in Center - American Legion Emblem.

        Sun - Light and warmth; Renewed life and life everlasting.

        Sunrise / Sunset - The Ressurection; Life Ending.

        Thistles - Remembrance.

        Tourch - Immortality of the Spirit; The Resurrection.

        Tree - Life.

    Tree, Sprouting - Everlasting Life.

        Tree Stump - Life Cut Short.

        Tree Trunk - Brevity of Life; Member of Woodmen of the World.

        Triangle with 3 joined "T's" - Royal Arch Mason.

    Trumpeters - Harbingers of the Resurrection.

        Urn - Immortality.

    Urn with Flame - Undying Remembrence.

    Wedge & Level - Could mean the person was a Mason by trade.

        Weeping Willow - Perpetual Mourning; Grief.

        Wheat Sheaves or Strands - Divine Harvest.

        Wreath - Saintliness; Glory; Victory in Death.

        Wings with Crest - U.S. Air Force Pilot.

        Wings with Parachute & Star - U.S. Army Airbourne.

        Wings with Propeller - U.S. Army Air Corps.

        Wings with Star and Wreath - U.S. Army Master Aviator.

        Wings, Pilot's, with "L" in Center - WW II U.S. Military Liaison Pilot.

        Wreath - Saintliness; Glory; Victory in Death.