The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

Additional Illustrations of
Evolving Gravestone Styles

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The more basic stages in the development of Anglo-American gravestone styles in New England during the seventeenth through early nineteenth centuries consisted of an early "death's head" or "winged skull" style (late 1600s through circa 1790), shown below, which gave way over time to a "cherub's head" style (circa 1760 through 1810), which was in turn displaced by an increasing preference for the "urn and willow" style (circa 1770 through mid-1800s). The date ranges of these shifts, and the character of developments within each of these stages, varied from locality to locality within New England, particularly as one moved from the eastern seaboard into more rural areas to the west.
early death's head gravestone style

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Figure 3 of Death's Head, Cherub, Urn and Willow article

Death's Head, Cherub, Urn and Willow article

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