The amazing tombstone of Susanna Jayne can be found on Old Burial Hill in the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Established in 1638, it’s one of the oldest cemeteries in the country, and its hilltop setting also provides a view of the older portions of Marblehead and the Atlantic Ocean.
Although the cemetery seems small, it boasts the interments of 600 Revolutionary War soldiers, in addition to a cenotaph dedicated to locally born Salem Witch Trial victim Wilmot Redd. At its highest point is a pair of tall memorial obelisks near which is Jayne’s gravestone, encased in concrete to protect it.
Carved by Henry Christian Geyer, the tall tombstone bears the central image of a skeleton in a wisp of robe with a crown of laurels on its skull. In one hand it holds an anthropomorphized sun; in the other, a moon which has deteriorated over the years. A scythe curves behind its skull, and encircling this image is the frame of a serpent devouring its own tail. Outside of the snake, in the top corners of the image, are a pair of cherubic angels, in the bottom corners, a pair of bats. Above it all, is an hourglass bookended by a pair of bones.
The inscription underneath this unsettling image reads in part,
Deposited Beneath this Stone the Mortal Part of Mrs. Susanna Jayne, the amiable Wife of Mr. Peter Jayne, who lived Beloved and Died Universally Lamented, on August 8th, 1776, in the 45th Year of her Age.
Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker