Whorlton Church Graveyard

Christian burials are usually aligned east-west with the feet at the east so that at the moment of resurrection the deceased will face Jesus who will be coming from the east. Gravestones are meant to be read from the feet so face east. The gravestones at the ruined church of Whorlton generally follow this tradition. Except for this gravestone which faces west. I have heard of two reasons why this could have happened. Firstly it could indicate that the person committed suicide. Or, it could mark the grave of a vicar or minister who was buried west-east and so will rise facing his congregation. There are examples for and against both of these which perhaps just goes to show there are no hard and fast rules. Regions and individual churches each followed their own traditions. Suicides are also recorded as being buried outside the churchyard along with unbaptised babies, criminals, paupers and unidentified persons. The inscription on this gravestone was too weatherworn to be legible. I could make out about half of it. There didn’t appear to be a name. The skull and crossbones and the hourglass are fairly common gravestone symbols and examples of “memento mori“, reminders of our mortality.
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