Historic Cemetery Walking Tour

The carvings and sculptural elements on the headstones at Sunset Hills decorate the graves, but also serve a symbolic purpose. Many graves feature flowers, symbolizing the fragility of life. A plucked flower represents a life in full bloom, cut short, as does a grave shaped like a chopped tree. Lilies stand for purity and innocence, while roses suggest romance, passion, and beauty.

Animals decorate several stones. Lions indicate courage; roosters and flying birds are associated with resurrection. On Christian headstones, ants stand for industriousness while a pelican means redemption through Christ. A stone with a coiled snake accuses the buried of sin, but a snake with its tail in its mouth indicates an everlasting life in heaven.

Scales represent the weighing of justice for the judgment of the dead, while arrows stand for mortality. Graves of sailors and captains might feature anchors and ships, but these also stand for hope. Arches symbolize a victorious, heroic death (as in battle).