In this modern era, people don’t like to be reminded that death is heading our way, hence the lack of imagery in newer cemeteries that I personally find boring. It is something that we cannot avoid and therefore we should remember to live our lives (Memento Vivere) as death may arrive within the next hour or day. As with the plague, it was expected that death was imminent, but with modern advances in medicine and life expectancy getting longer, does this mean that we shouldn’t be reminded that one day, death will catch up with us?
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Memento Mori – Remember that YOU will die
Skulls, Crossbones and Skeletons
Skull and crossbones became a popular mortality symbol which dates back to the Middle Ages during the Black Death. Also known as Memento Mori symbols, these will be depicted with various latin phrases such as: –
Memento Vivere – Remember to live
Vive Memor Leti – Live remembering death
Fugit Hora – Time Flies
Winged Skulls and Hour Glasses
Feathers or wings on a headstone usually depicts the ascent to Heaven.
The hourglass seen on a lot of headstones within Greyfriars and St Cuthbert’s churchyards symbolises that time is passing rapidly and we are one hour closer to our death.
Wheat on a Headstone
A sheaf of wheat seen on a headstone can mean a number of things. Wheat is one of our most basic foods and some say that it is a gift from God as the origin of wheat is unknown. As wheat is a harvested grain, it can be used to represent immortality and resurrection. Finally, it can also mean that the person buried has lived a long and fruitful life, more than seventy years.
Memento Mori Headstones
Memento Mori is a fascinating subject and I can’t wait to find more interesting memento mori headstones to photograph. If you know of any good ones, please let me
The first of my new videos features my Memento Mori photography and hopefully you will learn something about graveyard and cemetery art throughout the centuries. Memento Mori photography features lots of skull and crossbones, cadavers and death heads, but you will have to watch the video to find out more.
Please share this video and ask any questions you may have.
Finally, if you adore this kind of photography and want to know the history of cemetery death heads (skull and crossbones, soul effigy, cherubs face with wings, winged skulls) then please take a look at my Cemetery Death Heads gallery.