Memento Stones is a blog dedicated to the art and iconography of gravestone carving. As an artist, designer, autodidact and lifelong taphophile, it is my personal mission to spread the word about inspired memorial art with an emphasis on - but not entirely limited to - regional stone carvings produced prior to the Industrial Revolution. Please read on and enjoy the images. I hope you will find some inspiration!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This is a space to celebrate the tradition of memorial stone carving.

Historic funerary practice has included rituals from exposure to cremation to interment in sarcaphogi and massive monuments on the scale of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. People create ephemeral wooden gravemarkers, place objects as offerings on individual tombs and, increasingly in our contemporary culture, erect roadside monuments to victims of violent accidental death.

The need to make sense of what becomes of us once this life is extinguished is among the oldest of human desires. It is arguably the source of all religious practice and correspondingly among the most ancient of subjects to be addressed by artists and artisans. It is still with us today, albeit pushed to the margins like so much of the rest of our response to death and dying in contemporary, post industrial society. In periods of fear of and respect for death as a natural part of the life cycle, memorial art blossoms and thrives. All art is a reflection of the culture which creates it…….but that’s a whole other road to go down…..

As a child I grew up in a small New England town with a burial ground dating back to the 1630’s. It affected me profoundly. At the age of 4 I began  attending a nursery school run by the local Congregationalist church. The playground backed up to the cemetery and I spent a lot of time peering over the chain link fence at those mysterious winged faces from the past. 
Throughout my life that old graveyard has been one of my favorite places to return to, walk in, to think and just to be – alone with my thoughts, with nature and with the spirits of the past.

As an adult I practice art and design more or less professionally and live in a cabinet of curiosities with collections of objects ranging from seashells, to tramp art, to old vinyl lps and books about death and dying. I’m sort of a total amateur archivist.

For more than a decade now one of my greatest passions has been collecting photographic images from 100’s of 17th and 18th century period graveyards, mostly in New England, but extending as far south as the Carolinas.  It’s an addiction (I definitely have an addictive personality-ask anyone who knows me!). My plan is to eventually publish a book with a selection of some of the more interesting images in the hopes of adding my work to the list of works created by other taphophiles and lovers of memorial art.

I plan to share a portion of that work here in order to create a resource for people already interested in the subject and as a means of introduction for those to whom this may be new. Spending time among the dead can be a very effective way to position oneself within the greater scheme of things…..but oops, off on another tangent…..

……back to the stones….To start with I will be sharing other people’s work. Over the years I have added books, photographs and works of art to my collection, objects produced by gravestone enthusiasts who have gone before me. It’s a nice collection and perhaps some local museum or historical society may be interested in exhibiting some of it. I have previously helped create the exhibition Saving Face at the Wethersfield Historical Society in Wethersfield, CT-an event to help raise awareness and funds for FACES, an organization dedicated to preservation and restoration of Wetherfield’s historic stones. 

Check out my next entry for examples of objects from my collection...

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