Friday, January 1, 2010

Symbols at Mountain View Cemetery

This is a cemetery symbol that I don't ever recall seeing before. It is of a hand holding a chain with a broken link, which symbolized the death of a family member. This symbol was used primarily in the Victorian Era and it looks like Mary Northey died at the very end of that period, which technically extends from the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign in 1837 to her death in 1901. Notice the very elaborate cuff, which was also typical of the Victorian Era. Mary Northey is buried in Plot 2 just to the west of the Victorian family vaults.


When you see two hands shaking with the cuffs of different genders, this sybolizes marriage. This grave is to the east of the Victorian vaults in Plot 2 under the angel. It marks the resting place of a husband and wife. If you see a similar marker, but with gender neutral cuffs, it can symbolize a heavenly welcome or earthly farewell. This is a fairly common gravestone symbol.


FLT stands for Friendship, Love, Truth, three degrees associated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Odd Fellows, first organized in the US in 1819, is a popular fraternal/benefit organization. The emblem of the Odd Fellows is usually shown as three links of a chain. A number on the stone is the local lodge number. [The Association for Gravestone Studies]


The square in the Masonic square and compass is a builder's square, used by carpenters and stonemasons to measure perfect right angles. In Masonry, this is a symbol of the ability to use the teachings of conscience and morality to measure and verify the rightness of one's actions.

The compass is used by builders to draw circles and lay off measurements along a line. It is used by the Masons as a symbol of self-control, the intention to draw a proper boundary around personal desires and to remain within that boundary line.

The letter G usually found in the center of the square and compass is said to represent "geometry" or "God."

All photos by Michael Colbruno

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Chris Pattillo, FASLA said...


This is a great post. Interesting and informative and wonderful photos.

Thanks for doing it.

Chris Pattillo

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mike -- I think you are incorrect about the meaning of the "G," although those are two common guesses. My dad was a Mason, and the meaning of the "G" is one of their secrets. He did tell me that if I guessed it correctly, he would let me know. I guessed both God and Geometry, and he just laughed and told me I was wrong.