Friday, July 2, 2010

Retro gravestone

American anthropologist and archaeologist James Deetz (2nd image) died in 2000, age 70, but is just now getting the gravestone of his choice. An expert on the Colonial settlements of Massachusetts, in particular the Plymouth Colony, Deetz coauthored the paper, "Death's Heads, Cherubs and Willow Trees: Experimental Archaeology in Colonial Cemeteries." He was especially fond of these 18th c. "light bulb heads," as he called them (see example, 4th image) and had always wanted a period-style grave marker, remembers one of his sons. Close ties with the Deetz family inspired historic preservationist David Wheelock to take up the challenge of carving his mentor's favorite stone, that of Elizabeth Tillson, which marks the Colonist's grave on Plymouth's Burial Hill. Without any experience in carving, Wheelock (2nd image) took up a chisel and, after 1,000 hours of research and a hunt for just the right blue stone, carved the skull, the crossbones, and the wings (3rd image). He is ready to etch the traditional epitaph, "Remember me as you pass by, as you are now so once was I. As I am now you soon will be, prepare yourself to follow me," and plans to place the marker on Deetz's grave in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Westernport, Maryland, next month. Although it has taken him a couple of years, Wheelock is glad he did it. His successful effort is all the more remarkable for the fact that his only previous foray into stone carving was to make a marker for a family poodle that passed away!

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.