Teaching Resources

Cemetery Memorials


Memorialisation

Heritage cemeteries are commonplace yet in our daily lives we walk or drive past these places taking little notice of them. Many people and even fewer young children or teenagers have ever visited a cemetery. Many perceptions of old cemeteries are gained from the entertainment media where they have frequently been portrayed as scary places.

Yet cemeteries are not limited to being sacred places of the dead. We can learn so much more about our past from the material culture that exists there. New Zealand's heritage cemeteries comprise wonderful cultural landscapes, suffused with history and fascinating stories. They eloquently reflect the ideals, dreams and tastes of our Victorian and Edwardian ancestors. The final markers many leave behind are often works of art, and can hide fascinating histories and remarkable stories.

This education kit contains a number of downloadable resources that can be used in any cemetery. Use the introductory photo-stories Introducing the Cemetery, and Introducing Memorials as starter activities for the following resources.

Investigating memorialisation and how it has changed over time ( Levels 3 - 5)

  • Memorialisation Teaching Unit (pdf 1.4Mb)
    This unit contains curriculum links, and ideas and suggestions for teaching activities that could be used for a study of your local cemetery.

  • Student worksheets
  • Guides to Cemetery Symbolism:
    This series of photo-story/factsheets provides a comprehensive introduction to many of the cemetery symbols and decorative motifs students will encounter on a cemetery visit. The resources are highly visual and designed for whole class teaching and discussion.

    • Cemetery Symbolism Part 1 - Structures (PDF file. Download size 1.4Mb) This eight-slide presentation introduces students to the often hidden meanings behind some of the great variety of headstone shapes found in New Zealand's heritage cemeteries.
    • Cemetery Symbolism Part 2 - Fauna and Flora (PDF file. Download size 2.7Mb) This nineteen-slide presentation introduces students to the often hidden meanings behind some of the great variety of headstone decorations found in New Zealand's heritage cemeteries.
    • Cemetery Symbolism Part 3 - Other Objects (PDF file. Download size 1.4Mb) This eleven-slide presentation introduces students to the often hidden meanings behind some of the great variety of headstone decorations found in heritage cemeteries. This includes the meanings of wreaths, torches, hands, scrolls, books and more.
    • Cemetery Symbolism Part 4 - Christian Religious Symbolism (PDF file. Download size 2.7Mb) This nineteen-slide presentation introduces students to the often hidden meanings behind some of the great variety of reilgious decorations found in heritage cemeteries. This includes the meanings of angels, virtuous women, cherubs, stars, gates, crosses, glory crosses and more.
    • Cemetery Symbolism Part 5 - Other cultural and fraternity symbolism (PDF file. Download size 1Mb) This six-slide presentation introduces students to the often hidden meanings behind some other cultural symbolism or fraternal organisation membership decorations found in heritage cemeteries.

  • These additional photo-story/factsheet presentations are important background resources for the memorialisation teaching unit. They are highly visual and designed for whole class teaching and discussion. These resources can be presented to classes using a digital projector or printed.

    Common Victorian and Edwardian Memorial motifs (PDF file. Download size is 0.7 Mb).This presentation consists of twenty-four-slides. Common postcard designs from the late Victorian and Edwardian area and cemetery memorials designs are compared. This resource is also available as a Powerpoint presentation Memorial Motifs.pptx (Compatible for Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 - (PDF file. Download size is 5.6 Mb).

    • Cemetery Architecture (PDF file. Download size is 1.6 Mb).
      This fact sheet set is presented as sixteen-slides that review the range and type of headstones and memorials found in our cemeteries. This resource is also available as a Powerpoint presentation Cemetery Architecture.pptx (Compatible for Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 - PDF file. Download size is 2.3 Mb).

    • Memorialisation then and now (PDF file. Download size is 2.4 Mb).
      This photo-story is presented as eighteen-slides and takes a closer look at in-memoriam cards, grave offerings and other memories of lost ones and how this has changed over time. This resource is also available as a Powerpoint presentation MemorialsThen&Now.pptx (Compatible for Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 - PDF file. Download size is 3.6 Mb).

    • Epitaphs (PDF file. Download size is 3.3 Mb). This photo-story is presented as twenty-eight-slides and examines the types of epitaphs and headstone inscriptions students are likley to encounter on a cemetery visit.This resource is also available as a Powerpoint presentation Epitaphs.pptx (Compatible for Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 - PDF file. Download size is 3.9 Mb)].

    • Memorial Plantings (PDF file. Download size is 4.7 Mb). This photo-story is presented as twenty-three-slides that examines the range of plantings that often accompany both public and family memorials. This resource is also available as a Powerpoint presentation MemorialPlantings.pptx (Compatible for Microsoft Powerpoint 2007 - PDF file. Download size is 6 Mb).

  • The following trails have been developed as examples of the kinds of cemetery memorial trails teachers can develop for local cemeteries elsewhere.

    • Dunedin's Northern Cemetery
    • Dunedin's Southern Cemetery
    • Dunedin's Anderson's Bay Cemetery
      • Cemetery Game (PDF file. Download size is 1.8 Mb).

        Matching cemetery memorials to memorabilia, streets, buildings, and more. Print out student booklets along with headstone cards or stickers. Students match the cards to the information in the booklet when they visit the cemetery.

        Do you have a special or unusual memorial in your town or cemetery?

        If your class has investigated an unusual or special memorial in your local cemetery or town let us know about it. Your memorial could be unusual in an artistic way or it could have special connections with your town, or school in some way.

        Or you may have designed a memorial trail that links your cemetery with buildings and streets in your community?

        Email the details along with photographs or send as a Word file to Stewart Harvey and we will share your project with others on this website!