Grave Tiles II

Grave Tiles 3

Two more tiled surfaces on graves in Ross Bay Cemetery. I like the tiling and it’s decrepitude better in the first of this series, but in their different ways these are nice too.

You can find out more about Ross Bay Cemetery in these earlier posts.

Grave Tiles 8

Grave Tiles 6


Grave Tiles 5

Grave Tiles 7



Canon G15, 6.1mm (=28mm full frame), ISO80, f1.8, all processed in Photomatix with fusion/natural settings from three brackets, +/- E.V. 2.0.



27 thoughts on “Grave Tiles II

    • Thank you Laurie. Even the colour ones in this series are quite black and white (I did desaturate some grassy fringes on a couple of them which were distractingly green).


  1. They are beautiful but I agree; the broken ones are more interesting to me. I like the patterning. I thought of grave robbing and protection from animals before reading the comments. Either way, it looks neat.


    • Hi Ryan. I agree about the broken ones. I think I would have been happier with a detail of the few chipped tiles in some of these pictures, but I did not think of it until looking at the pictures.
      I think they look all the better for a lot of weathering. When freshly applied and white and black I think it would have been a bit antiseptic.


  2. On reading the comments it seems this type of grave is unusual in Canada. Not here in Australia. In fact many graves of this era had heavy stones over the body with or without the upright grave marker. Some were tiled, some engraved with the details of the people interred under it. I wonder what caused different trends in grave design to occur in different countries?


    • Hi Katherine – interesting to know about the Australia connection. My guess is that it might be a British thing, Victoria was super Brit influenced at the time of these graves. Some of these graves have a cement cap, and a few have other materials on the top. Granite curbs are common, often with a surname engraved. The cement is sometimes decorated a bit. I think adding the tiles is an extension of that approach. I think some of it might be functional (to keep the grave surface ‘clean’, to keep things out of the grave, to stop trees etc growing) but I think there was status involved too – it was expensive to cap a grave, or surround it with granite, or tile it, or put a decorative iron fence, and so on. The most ornate metal fence in the cemetery is around the first Governors grave, who before the Colony was established was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s head man in the area. So, one of the highest status guys, with one of the most ornate graves.
      Another factor I suspect is that it was in the mid- and late-1800s that a lot of grave robbing and body snatching was going on in Europe – scientists, doctors and so on acquiring specimens and similar. That could easily have started a fashion for a slab over the grave to keep those guys out, which would have spread throughout colonial regions very rapidly, and become more ornate as the memory of the original purpose faded, or even right away.


  3. I’ve never seen tiles like this in a cemetery. It it a regional custom?
    The fourth and fifth are my favorites of this series but I also like the second because it is they type of documentary style that explains a lot. Good choice in shooting it this way.


    • Thanks Ken. That second shot had fantastic light reflecting off the tiles, but I might not have quite done it justice – I tried for a bit too much detail in the tiles and not enough reflection.
      There are a few graves in this cemetery with tiles. Not sure if they are all about the same age, but I expect so, late 1800’s or early 1900’s. The same tiles were quite prominent in bathrooms and hallways and so on at that time, so it has to be partly fashion. I am not sure if they are in other cemeteries, there is not a lot of choice for old cemeteries around here other than pioneer ones mostly with very simple graves.


    • Hi Val – I think you question applies also to a lot of other things to do with decorating graves. I expect it is part of the most common – something to do with status display. But what the message is, that escapes me. Perhaps it one-ups the majority that have just a concrete slab on their grave (those ones are upping the guys with just a simple curb around the grave, which is of course a step up from plain old grass).


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