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Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Lambs Signify?

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Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week

This week’s Historic Cemetery Symbol of the week is the lamb. What does it symbolize when you see lambs on grave monuments?

Baby lamb on a historic cemetery headstone (photo by Tui Snider)
Baby lamb on a historic cemetery headstone (photo by Tui Snider)

Symbolic Meaning of Lambs

Since ancient times, lambs have been used in sacrificial ceremonies. So as a symbol, lambs represent innocence and sacrifice. The lamb may also be a reference to a passage in the Bible (John 1:29) where John the Baptist calls Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Once again, this taps into lambs as a symbol of sacrifice.

Baby lamb on a historic cemetery headstone (photo by Tui Snider)
Baby lamb on a historic cemetery headstone (photo by Tui Snider)

 

Lambs on Children’s Graves

When you see a lamb on a headstone, it is most likely marking a child’s grave.  I say “most likely” because while I *have* seen lambs on the graves of young adults, it’s pretty rare. In these cases, you will have to do further research to find out why a lamb was used. For instance, it’s possible that on an adult’s grave, the lamb represents someone who was mentally challenged and therefore very innocent and child-like throughout their life.
Alternatively, it could mean that this person sacrificed their own life for another. As always, when you find a cemetery symbol that doesn’t quite fit the norm, it’s often worth further research. You just may uncover a fascinating story!
But most of the time, lambs on a headstone mark the loss of a child. I’m not sure why, but the little lambs are nearly always sitting down. Depending on the type of stone they were carved from and how much weather they have endured, these little lamb markers can be so worn down you can barely tell what sort of creature they represent. I purposely haven’t photographed any of those melted-looking lambs, but as I write this, I realize I should do so next time so I can show you what I mean!

Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism:

I am currently writing a field guide to historic cemetery symbolism. Each Tuesday, I share a small snippet from my upcoming book. It’s my goal to create a handy-dandy pocket guide for taphophiles, genealogists, ghost hunters, and anyone else interested in the historic graveyard symbols that have become forgotten over the years.

Which symbols are you curious about?

Let me know in the comments if there is a certain symbol that you are curious about. Also, if you would like to know when the cemetery symbolism guide is available for purchase, scroll down and sign up for my newsletter! I look forward to hearing from you!

FREE Cemetery Symbols Guide:

Would you like a FREE guide to historic cemetery symbolism? If so, click the image below:

Want to read more like this?


To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best-selling travel guide:
UNEXPECTED TEXAS: Your Guide to Offbeat & Overlooked History, Day Trips & Fun Things to do near Dallas & Fort Worth
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For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best-selling travel guide to haunted places:
PARANORMAL TEXAS: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places near Dallas & Fort Worth
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For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out this bizarre piece of West Texas history:
The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber

 


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Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in quirky, haunted, and downright bizarre destinations. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!” Snider's writing and photography have been featured in a variety of publications, including Coast to Coast AM, FOX Travel News, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and more. Snider’s award-winning books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, and Unexpected Texas. Snider has several more books in progress, including a Field Guide to Cemetery Symbols and a book about the Great Texas Airship Mystery of 1897. Tui has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. She enjoys connecting with writers and readers all over the globe through social media, her newsletter and her website: TuiSnider.com.
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