Graveyard Art I

Have you noticed?! Its a new year, there is a new series here: Graveyard Art and there is a new author joining this blog, mentioned above. That’s right, Debbi Decker, a friend I made in 2012. So, let me introduce you to her, her graveyard art and our story behind:

Graveyard Art

Graveyard Art on ImagesByCW

Since cemeteries and graveyard art in particular is a big and complex subject, in each post of this series, Debbi will answer 2 or 3 question, plus explain to us a couple of commonly found graveyard art symbols. So, be sure to check back or subscribe (click) here to be notified by email. If you have questions with reference to graveyard art, please ask in the comments and we’ll be happy to include them in a future post. To start us off, three basic questions.


Why do you visit graveyards? What about ghosts and hauntings? Do you believe?

Graveyard Art

Here is my story: I never really had any special connection to cemeteries, in fact I hardly ever visited any. Then Debbi came along this past year and I saw all the beautiful graveyard art she captured. And I am interested in art. Plus I needed subjects/objects that I could try my Christmas presents (new camera and lens) on. Have you realized how beautifully decorated some of the old monuments or headstones in the old part of your local cemetery are? And how they differ? Going through different parts of cemeteries is like a walk through a museum or the old part of towns where you admire the old architecture. You will find that through the centuries ornaments and decorations in graveyards changed, too, in order to resemble the beliefs, art, fashion of that particular time. To me, that is graveyard art. As for ghosts and hauntings…? I am scared already! I don’t think I’d ever go to a cemetery after dark. Do I believe… well, it doesn’t hurt to be open to possibilities, right?!

graveyard, cemetery, fine art graveyard, cemetery, fine art

Debbi also is an artist selling her creations on Etsy. Once you enter her shop twistedpixelstudio you will dwell in pictures of parts of graveyards made into fine art prints, cards, jewelry and more. She lived abroad for a while, also in Germany, and currently resides in an old house in Virginia.

Gothic Victorian Fine Art by twistedpixelstudioThis is Debbi’s story: As a child, it was the creepy factor that attracted me to cemeteries. I grew up watching those old black and white monster movies that almost always featured a spooky graveyard.  But somewhere along the line I discovered the artistic, architectural, and language that they contain. Graveyard Art. If you take the time to do the research, you can actually discern a great deal about the people who are buried, the era they lived in and a great deal more just by looking at the way the stone is carved, how it is built, etc.  As far as hauntings go, I leave that part up to the visitor.  But I do believe.  The little iron fences you see around some of the plots are there as a way to mark the real estate so to speak.  But, there are those who believe that iron has great power over the restless dead and that iron fence will keep the spirit contained within.

Virgin Mary Cemetery ArtVictorian Dark Art

Is there an etiquette for cemeteries? Or for taking photos there? How about walking over someones grave?

There is no real etiquette other than to be respectful. Cemeteries can be fragile environments, especially in the older ones. Stones and ironwork age, and the ground can shift. Taking care not to lean on monuments and to not try to move the metal gates and ironwork. As far a walking over a grave? Aside from the various superstitions regarding this, it can be difficult not to walk over a grave. Because over time, the land can shift and the stones can disappear or even sink right into the earth. I do not worry too much about this aspect as it is unavoidable. The Victorians who created and designed many of the older cemeteries in the U.S. considered these spaces to be sacred, yes, but they also wanted them to be places that people could feel comfortable visiting. Children played in them, and picnics spread out over a loved ones grave were common. Some would even place a bench right over the grave itself so the visitor would have a place to sit when visiting!


Do you look for specific things when you visit a graveyard? Is there a way to find a specific grave? Do maps exist?

Many of the historical cemeteries do have information and maps regarding the inhabitants and the best place to begin for this information is to contact the caretakers of the cemeteries. Internet searches can also give you a great deal of information due to the huge popularity of genealogy research. You can start by searching the name and location of the particular cemetery you are interested in and go from there. Your searches should also give you the contact information regarding the caretakers too.


Interpreting graveyard art symbols:

graveyard art cross crownGraveyard Art: LambA cross through crown is  a Christian symbol indicating belief in the sovereignty of the Lord and triumph of faith over death.

Lambs are generally used on the graves of children to denote innocence.  It is also a Christian reference to the “Lamb of God”.

Graveyard Art: LambGraveyard Art: Lamb


That’s it for part I of our Graveyard Art series. What do you think? Something missing that you would like to add? Or do you have questions? Please ask them in the comments below and we’ll try and answer them and possibly include them in a future post.


I am linking this post to letter ‘G’ of round 6 of Alphabe- Thursday hosted by Jenny Matlock. If you have a moment please visit their websites and check out other bloggers’ work.
Jenny Matlock


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31 thoughts on “Graveyard Art I”

    • Debbi visited some wonderful and old Victorian ones, I still have to do that. While the ones around here are old, very old I would not call them Victorian, they are also small. But still, you can find some amazing artwork.

  1. I love going to cemeteries to take photos, so I think this series of posts is great! I need to get out and take more pics this year, especially in Milwaukee’s veterans’ cemetery.

    Great “G” post!

  2. My family has always told me I had a sick Fascination with
    grave yards.. every city I go to I usually check out the
    head stones.. I just love reading them, especially the old
    Love this post and would like to read more about Debbie
    and her story…
    Happy New Year

    • Hahaha – I think that’s what my hubby thinks of me, too :). Yes, reading the headstones, imagining stories…. love it, too. No problem, Debbi will be back… next week!

    • Genealogy is huge here in the US! I find it very interesting, too, but don’t know if I would like the research.
      p.s. the ‘swirling effect’ is a special lens called ‘Lensbaby’ 😉

  3. Amazing post! Love seeing you both ! I do love the graveyard art too! and I’ve learned so much with Debbie now with you too .Great post and photos! I can’t miss a visit to a cemetery when traveling! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Dani. It is so much fun working together with Debbi. I have already learned so much… and there is more!

  4. Love this.. I saw many beautiful old graves in Ireland too.. neglected though which was a bit sad because one could not read the text anymore. I particularly like the symbol interpretation.. please continue 🙂

    • Jo! Thank you for leaving a comment, great to see you like our little essay. I would have loved to see the old Celtic graves.

    • Hey Debbi! I think you have no other choice, but to continue your guest author series on my blog 🙂 Thank you so much! The honor is all mine.

  5. What beautiful photos. The hauntingly beautiful gravestones are something you rarely see here in Hawaii. Scary but lovely at the same time.

    I hope you’re having a great week and a Happy New Year! Thank you so much for linking up to last week’s Aloha Friday Blog Hop!! I’m following you. If you have time, we’d love to have you come and link up to the Aloha Friday Blog Hop if you haven’t already! (Thank you so very much if you’ve already linked up, I truly appreciate it!!) Come and link up and celebrate the coming weekend with us! Aloha, Jean {What Jean Likes}

    • Really? There aren’t many gravestones like these in Hawaii? Well, I guess Christianity and with it Christian-belief-graves got there a lot later. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit and yes, I already did link up again 🙂

    • You know what, May? I haven’t been to Ireland either. These pictures were actually all taken in the USA. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  6. Thanks to everyone for your kind comments. This has been a great expxerience! Yes, Claudia, I would be honored to continue!

    I was surprised to hear that about Hawaii, and though I have never been to Ireland either, I think I need to explore both of these further!

    There are some wonderful books regarding cemeteries, the symbols, and the art. If anyone is interested, I can recommend several that I own and a few that are on my wish list!

  7. I loved reading this post. I am huge on cemeteries, ever since I was a little girl. They are peaceful and beautiful places. Dark and creepy sometimes, but beautiful none-the-less.

    Both Claudia’s and Twisted’s work is gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed viewing all your photographs. I can’t wait to see more work from both of you!

    • Thank you, Intricate Knot, for stopping by and leaving a comment. Watch out for another post by Debbi some time this coming week. 🙂

  8. I’m always drawn to the history and emotion in graveyards.

    My husband and I have actually hunted out abandoned cemeteries looking for old family memories of his.

    I just have a sense of peace when I think of those visits.

    Although I would definitely never attempt it after dark!

    Thanks for a grand link for the letter “G”.


    • I truly find it amazing how many people (in the US) are into genealogy. I came across a lot of sites dealing just with this ‘phenomenon’ – ancestry. Although I have to admit that I find it intriguing, too. Just not enough to actually go hunting for it – LOL


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