Epitaphs on Tombstones (Hanover, Upper Valley area)


Epitaphs are traditionally a sentence or phrase referencing something a dead person said, believed in, or valued, or describing their religious beliefs or occupation. We can look at both the use and physical text of epitaphs through time to examine how the folk lived in the past and how they live today.

Scattered throughout the cemeteries of Hanover and the Upper Valley are the epitaphs of those passed, bestowed upon each grave either by the deceased’s dying wishes or by the wishes of those close to them. We have collected many of these epitaphs here. Though it is usually impossible to tell who gave the epitaph to each deceased and why–especially given that most of the graves are over 100 years old–the epitaphs still provide an interesting insight into lives and times gone by.

What makes epitaphs folklore? This would be the fact that they exist as both an oral tradition and a key part of burial rituals. In folkloric tradition, epitaphs (along with grave markings in general) have no known inventor. Nonetheless, their use is well-documented through time. Historically, grave markings (epitaphs included) were habitually used for superstitious reasons, as wards to prevent the dead from becoming unclean or to prevent the already unclean dead (vampires and the like) from exiting their graves and terrorizing communities. Today, epitaphs continue to be passed down from one generation to the next, now used by the living to pay respect to, commemorate, and identify the dead. While the superstition that was one attached to epitaphs is–for all intents and purposes–gone, their designation as folklore stands strong.

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  • 💡 Jack Forrest
  • Kyle Clampitt
  • Carson Smith
  • Ned Feist
  • Peter Tiktinsky