Saturday, December 3, 2011

“Adgyfodiad mawr”

The tall tablet marker at the grave of young Margaret Herbert (d. 1840) is quite stately looking with its architectural cap and formally draped urn.

The epitaph is a version of the popular Friends and physicians could not save. The bonus here is that after an English verse, there is a second verse written in Welsh.

TO the Memory of
Daughter of
who departed this life
June 13, 1840.
Aged 18 Years
& 13 days.

Phycisians could not save,
This body from the grave;
Nor can the grave confine me here,
When Christ doth call I must appear.

Fy nghorph, er hardded oedd ei wedd.
Raid orwedd yma yn y bedd;
Yn fwyd i bryfed man y llawr,
Hyd foreu’r adgyfodiad mawr.

Here, letter for letter, are the Google Translate results for the Welsh epitaph as transcribed above:

My body, though hardded was in his thirties.
This must lie in the grave;
In the floor space food for insects,
Up foreu’r great resurrection.

Look at the leaf detail on the carved sprigs that decorate the inscription circle: A leaf is folded back to “make room” for the inscription.

Can you identify the leaves? Based on my recent experience with David’s daffodils, I looked up the national tree of Wales, but Margaret’s leaves clearly are not sessile oak.

Radnor Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio


  1. Hi Amy,

    Maybe the leaves are some type of chestnut (buckeye?), but then they would have more leaves, I guess. Except for the serrated edges of the leaves, which are not depicted in the carving, they look like leaves of this type. Compare with the following image:

    I also found this grave in MA that has leaves (or at least leaflike shapes) arranged similarly with a smaller version of the same in a circle (as opposed to the half circle on Margaret's grave above):

    I have no idea in either case what the symbolism might be. Does the Radnor Cemetery have Buckeye trees on its grounds? Or is there possibly some other meaning for chestnut trees/leaves?

  2. You might have something there, Chris. Although I would expect five leaves if it's a buckeye, the buckeye fruit is bumpy--and maybe that's what the dimples in the carving are meant to represent.

    Didn't notice whether there were any buckeye trees at the cemetery, but of course there are plenty of them here in Ohio!


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