Gravestone Symbolism

By William Roulston

This essay follows on from my study of the memorials of the dead in west Ulster and considers the symbolism on seventeenth-century memorials in this area. This can be divided into two main categories: firstly, mortality symbols; and secondly, heraldic devices. The purpose of this essay is to examine the origins and influences upon this symbolism, in particular focusing upon the mortality symbols. In order to broaden the picture as full as possible it is necessary to not only place them in their Irish context but also to analyse them in their British and European context.