Located on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, The Old Burying Ground stands as a testimony to Halifax's early days. Founded in 1749, the same year as the settlement, it was Halifax's first and only burying ground.
The entrance is dominated by a rare pre-Confederation memorial to the 1853 – 1856 Crimean War.
As well as headstones there are footstones, and tablestones in this cemetary. Footstones are smaller than headstones and may be very brief while tablestones were created for more important folk and could include larger inscriptions.
The images or symbols can be a clue to age. Older stones show symbols of death -- stylized winged skulls ("death-heads") or winged angels (soul effigies).
These gravestones were all carved by hand, using chisels and wooden mallets. Many of the old slate stones were quarried and carved around Massachusetts Bay and shipped to Halifax before the American Revolution. By the 1770's local stone carvers were making gravestones from a poorer quality local slate (or "ironstone'). As a result, some of the older headstones are in better condition than the more recent ones.
In the early 1800's the images gradually changed from representations of death to those of bereavement -- funerary urns, lamps (of life, extinguished), and sometimes springs of willow (weeping).
Though the explanation I found referred to the extinguished lamps (of life), I kept finding images that clearly showed a flame still coming from the lamp as the above images show.
Crossed bones represent death while the skull with the crown, resurrection, while an hourglass represents time.
This large tablestone once had carvings on its four enclosed sides, but only two remain. The fascinating image below is from one end of the monument.
I think it's depicting the resurected person (wearing the crown) rising from his grave to the trumpeting of an angel. And of course, there's an hourglass ...
Wandering among the headstone the lead in from a TV soap opera kept looping through my mind:
"Like the sands through an hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives".