Here on Long Island we have a large number of old graveyards and cemeteries with stones dating back to the late 1600's. Today's markers are much different than the days of old. It seems that as time progressed, the styles & shapes of these stones/markers changed considerably. In the next few months I will by exploring the islands graveyards looking for examples of the following. Please feel free to include any info / photos you may have.
Fieldstone Gravestones - Most graves in the 1600's were unmarked or marked with mounds of earth, stones or wood posts all of which have long since disappeared. Some graves had permanent markers in the form of roughly inscribed fieldstones.
Slate Gravestones - Slate gravestones dated before 1700.
Winged Heads - Gravestones from the early 1700's displaying winged heads.
Flowers - Gravestones from the early 1700's displaying flowers but they are rare.
Grim Winged Skulls - Gravestones displaying winged skulls. However, some stones have grim images suggesting pessimism about the soul ascending to heaven. also the use of symbols such as bones, hourglass or flames of hell. Some have ornate borders.
(Note: Hard to see but large Hourglass on the right and a reapers cycle on left and under head.
Unusual Shapes - Tapered cradle end gravestones for children can be found among other unusual shapes.
If you look carefully at the stone below you will see the ABC's & 123's etched. This was a childs grave and that portion was to be below ground.
Balloon Type Winged Skulls - Gravestones displaying oversized heads relative to the wings. 1720's - 30's.
Scary Skulls - From the late 1700's. Several carvers produced scary skulls with wicked grins, deep gouged eye and nose holes, large bones and often no wings.
Flying Winged Skulls - These winged skulls have their wing tips raised off the base or are actually flying above the base.
Winged Heads - Late 1700's early 1800's. Winged heads steadily increased and winged skulls decreased in popularity.
Abstract Winged Heads - These gravestones displayed abstract heads with unusual wing structure. They have unusual mouth marks including heart and bird suggesting the soul leaving the body through the mouth.
Medusa Style Heads - abstract heads by carvers had no wings but their long hair provided the power for the soul to ascend to heaven.
Sandstone Gravestones - Most show considerable surface erosion.
Winged Heads after 1750 - Gravestones displaying winged heads as more realistic, less primitive.
Portrait Style Gravestones - Gravestones from the late 1700's which display realistic figures from the waist up.
Table Stones - Large horizontal gravestones supported above ground which provide space for long inscriptions.
Sunburst Style Gravestones - Became popular in the early 1800's. Some sunbursts have eyes peeking over the horizon. The image can be interpreted as sunset suggesting death or as sunrise suggesting the soul ascending to heaven.
Urn Image Stones - In the 1780's urns began replacing skulls and heads on gravestones.
Weeping Willow Tree - In the early 1800's the weeping willow tree was displayed alone or with the urn.
Flowers, Ferns, Branches, Vines, Wreaths - The mid to late 1800's. These images replaced the Willow trees.
Books, Bibles, Crosses, Hands, Shells - Late 1800's.
Ships, Anchors, Chains, Flags - Late 1800's.
Human & Animal Forms - Late 1800's although very rare.
Obelisks - Tall obelisk shaped monuments began to appear in the mid 1800's. They often display several names including earlier deaths.
Zinc Metal Grave Markers - Produced from about 1875 to 1910. They have an attractive blue gray color. They withstand weathering very well and absolutely no lichen grows on them due to a chemical reaction with the metal.
As you can see, Ive been doing a bit of reading and research this winter. I will be providing examples of as many different types as I can find. And all from Long Island.