Stories in Stone

By Douglas Keister,

Book cover of Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography

Book description

Certain symbols abound in modern Western culture that are instantly recognizable: the cross signifies Christianity, the six-pointed Star of David is revered by Jews, the golden arches frequently means it's time for lunch. Other symbols, however, require a bit of decoding-particularly those found in cemeteries. Cemeteries are virtual encyclopedias of…

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. (learn more)

Why read it?

2 authors picked Stories in Stone as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

If you like visiting cemeteries, then this slender, profusely illustrated volume is a necessity. Keister, a professional photographer, covers an impressively wide variety of topics. He outlines key architectural forms and defines the meaning of floral, animal, and religious iconography. Keister goes beyond the standard New England skull-and-crossbones to identify symbols used in various regions and cultures, and discusses Hebrew, Islamic, and Chinese, and Japanese religious icons in addition to Christian motifs. He also includes handy features like an alphabetical list of acronyms of societies, clubs, and organizations to help decipher mysterious abbreviations. A concluding chapter on “Final Impressions” profiles…

Although there are several good dictionaries of gravestone symbols, none are as comprehensive and beautifully illustrated as Stories in Stone. It contains an immense number of photographs — often three to a page — so there is much on which to feast your eyes. Douglas Keister is the leading American photographer of gravestones.

There’s food for thought as well. In the opening section I learned about the significance of tumulus graves and their link to ancient warriors. The Victorian language of flowers is reflected on headstones, as is the 20th-century proliferation of fraternal organizations.

The book’s tall, skinny format…

From Loren's list on about cemeteries.

Want books like Stories in Stone?

Our community of 6,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like Stories in Stone.

Browse books like Stories in Stone

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cemeteries, funerals, and death?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about cemeteries, funerals, and death.

Cemeteries Explore 18 books about cemeteries
Funerals Explore 21 books about funerals
Death Explore 235 books about death