Henry ThompsonPath through Cemetery headstonescross

Bringing Linwood Cemetery Alive!

Headstone Symbolism

As you walk around Linwood Cemetery (or search the headstone pictures on this site) you can’t help but be curious about the symbols carved on the majority of the headstones.

                               Pictures have always been used to communicate, more so in times when people could not read or write very well.  In Victorian times there was a whole language of symbolism developed from early imagery and used in pattern, jewellery and memorials.

Symbols were also used to indicate an occupation or interest.

Rather than create a Dictionary of Headstone Symbolism here, we have added links to other international websites that have already done so.  Gravestone Symbolism (USA) Arnos Vale Cemetery (UK).  However, when we find a group to feature we will add information about them here.


We have found four headstones depiciting music on them in Linwood Cemetery.  Block 24 Plot 77 HORNE has the first verse of a hymn ‘Art Thou Weary’ on it.  Block 21 Plot 209 GARRY has a mixture of muscial notes, numbers and letters on a couple of staves spelling ot his name and dates.  Block 23 P2 POST spells Ada, the first name of Mrs POST and Block 21 Plot 167 BLOOMGREN, a very well known muscian of his time, has the symbol for a sustained pause.


“I will strive to live with love and care
Upon the level, by the square. 1507”

Found inscribed on a brass square at Ball’s Bridge Limerick, Ireland

The symbolism associated with Freemasonry was carried through onto headstones. As we look in detail at headstones in Linwood Cemetery we are finding many associated with Freemasonry and hope also to find out more about the role The Craft played in their lives. The first Grand Master of the Freemasons of NZ, Henry Thomson is also buried in Linwood Cemetery (B14P4), so we would be interested in hearing from anyone who has a grounding in the history of Christchurch Freemasonry and would like to lead a Power Pod and research this topic for us.  The internet now gives up many of the former secrets of the Freemasons and we look forward to understanding the depth of their meaning.

Euclid’s 47th Proposition (or Pythagorus’ Theorem)

roof-with-squarepastmasters-jewel-modern-englishSo far we have found three headstones etched with the symbol of Euclid’s 47th Proposition – more commonly recognised at Pythagoras’ Theorem (“The square on the hypotenues is equal to the sum of the squares on both sides”).  A roughly hewn symbol on B21P221 SMITH kept us wondering for quite sometime until, with the help of Friends, we identified the precisely drawn symbols on B24P226 TRIBE and B20P59 HENRIKSEN. From the little we have read, this symbol may indicate that the person was a Past Master.

Masonic Lodge of Education

© The Friends of Linwood Cemetery Charitable Trust

Revised 25th February 2013 by Alexandra