The cemetery is a very peaceful place, with a lovely view of the city and the River Foyle. I took a few hours to wander around and admire the landscape. At first glance, what stuck me the most was the amount of family plots. There are very few single graves in this cemetery. Instead, one headstone is used for a family plot, under which many family members may be buried.
I came upon a very striking, big old tree, and took a little while to draw it. This cemetery was a very interesting place to be. Everything was very peaceful and serene.
One of the aspects of this place that I found very interesting is that, for the longest time, it was used by both Protestants and Catholics. Despite the inequalities and uneasiness between the two groups, both used the same cemetery extensively, well into the 20th century. I suppose that just goes to show that death makes us all equal.
During the time of the Troubles, as many Protestants increasingly move to the Waterside, they began to bury their dead in the Altnagelvin and Ballyoan cemeteries, and today the majority of burials at the Derry City Cemetery are Catholic. The cemetery is still open to everyone, however, and, as the City of Derry~Londonderry puts it, “a place of stories – stories of the famous and infamous; of joy and tragedy; of traditions and beliefs.”
During the Victorian Era, funerals (like much life) were treated with a great amount of pomp and had the tendency to be extremely elaborate and expensive. Grave markers were very elaborate, and often very large. The most popular symbols were neoclassical ones, including covered vases, anchors, broken pillars, and celtic crosses. Covered vases were taken directly from the Greek tradition, where vases (likely inspired by urns used to hold ashes) were the average grave marker. Anchors symbolize confidence and safety, and were used in ancient times to disguise crosses, which they are still associated with. Broken columns are also of greek influence, and are usually used to symbolise an young person's death, or the end of a family line. Celtic Crosses are reminiscent of the Celtic Revival in the late 1800s, and are often filled with extra ornamentation or symbols.
After the Victorian Era came the Edwardian Era, a time when people began to frown upon the decadence of those that came before them. The mass deaths from the world wars led to far simpler, austere memorial architecture.
Today's headstones are simple, and are usually built off one or two templates, to make manufacturing easier. Due to the advances in technology, many modern graves have more involved inscriptions and text.