The Granary Burying Ground is a tiny little plot of land not far from the Boston Common and is home to over 5,000 bodies! Talk about being cramped. There are only 2,345 headstones and each grave houses at least 20 bodies. This is because funerals were expensive (Um, they still are but I think we've become accustomed to our own space both in this life and beyond.) The grounds are really a who's who of Boston's historical playmakers: John Hancock, Paul Revere, Crispus Attucks, Sam Adam and Robert Treat Paine. That's some star power. But on the day I visited I was more taken with the elaborate designs on the headstones. I just read that tombstones were an outlet for artistic expression because Puritan churches did not believe in religious iconography, just our luck:
Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer
It just so happens that one of my idols, Martha Stewart, featured headstones in her October issue with an article entitled "Everlasting Art." It's a very interesting, albeit short, article and I highly recommend getting a copy. A great site for more on historic gravestones is A Very Grave Matter, a website run by Jenn Marcelais who is mentioned in the MS article.
It's got me thinking, if I had a headstone what would the design be?!?!? This could be an untapped graphic design market! It's interesting to think about 300 years from now when people look back on our current styles and what they'd think. Frankly, from what I've seen, the majority seem a bit generic. Looking at these old headstones was extremely interesting, something about the history, the stories and the hand-carved artistry. Well, that's all for me on the topics of death and design for now, hope this wasn't too morbid for you!