Winged Soul Effigy

The Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord, Massachusetts

The Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord, Massachusetts

HERE lies the Body of

Deacon Simon Hunt

who died Decr ye 13th 1790; Aged 87

In private & public, he fought ye honour of God,

The interest of ye Chh. And ye good of his country.

As a Deacon, he conducted with honour & usefulness.

By his knowledge in ye Scriptures, constant devotion,

love for ye Chh. Charity to ye poor, joy in believing & faithful

endeavours to promote ye reformation & salvation of men,

he evinced great progress in religion,

and that he was “steadfast, unmoveable,

abounding in the work of the Lord.”

He met death with entire composure;

and to his last moments, recommended religion,

and encouraged Christians by ye word & promises of God,

He calmly fell asleep in lively hope of future glory,

Mark ye perfect, behold ye upright, his end is peace!

                                                                                                    Psalmist

A winged soul effigy is carved into the top of the Deacon Simon Hunt slate grave marker. The gravestone displays the image of a winged head, which is referred to as a “soul effigy.” The soul effigy represents the flight of the soul from one realm to the other—from Earth to Heaven and symbolizes the transition the soul makes on that journey. This iconography represents a change from the harsh Puritan imagery of skulls, crossed bones, winged death’s heads, and the accoutrements of the grave, such as the casket, or coffin, and burial instruments, such as, the pick and axe.

IMG_0762

In this particular case the effigy was probably designed to represent the deceased Deacon—note the collar on the effigy. However, in many cases, the image carved into the stone—sometimes a cherub—was not at all designed to look like the deceased but merely to be a representation of the human soul.

In this particular case, the winged soul effigy is carrying an hour glass tipped on its side, with the words, “My glass is run.” The Deacon’s time has run out, his life is over. This iconography is to remind all who pass by that life is brief.

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