The gravestone of Boston shopkeeper, Joseph Tapping, who died in 1678 at the age of 23, is one of the most famous in the city. Just inside the gates fo the King’s Chapel Cemetery is his elaborate carved tombstone.
In the top of the gravestone is the winged skull representing the fleeting nature of life the soul with the admonition “Memento Mori”, “remember death”. Above the winged skill is the hourglass symbolic of time running out.
The incised gravestone carving was created by the unnamed carver known simply as “the Charlestown Stonecutter”. In the scene on the face of the tombstone is carved the epic struggle between the death pictured as a skeleton armed with a candle snuffer and an arrow. In this timeless fight, a bearded Father Time is trying to hold Death back and save death for another day.