Connect with the Library:

Early Gravestone Symbols and Meanings

Saturday | November 05, 2022
1:00pm - 2:00pm

Location: Rines Auditorium
Audience: Adults

Southern Maine’s colonial cemeteries are rich with folk art. Beautifully hand-carved gravestones created by local stonecutters are readily found throughout our region. But what do the gravestone symbols—rising suns, skulls & crossed bones, and pointing fingers —really mean? In this heavily-illustrated presentation, cemetery historian and author Ron Romano will describe the “anatomy” of a gravestone, discuss the types of materials found in our burying grounds and explain the meanings of dozens of gravestone images. We’ll explore this topic with some additional context regarding how our cemetery landscapes have evolved over time. Is there a difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? We’ll answer that question in this program!


Ron Romano is author of four cemetery- and gravestone- themed books. He’s designed tours of more than a dozen historic cemeteries in southern Maine. He is an officer on the board of the Association for Gravestone Studies, the leading organization in America for cemetery and gravestone studies, and he serves locally on the board of the friends of Portland’s oldest burying ground, Eastern Cemetery (established in 1668).