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Saturday, June 21, 2014

The winged death's-head

The winged head on Captain Hales' grave at Norfolk is triply intriguing.

First, there was the mystery of the man and his ship.

Then, there was the carefully and professionally carved Masonic symbol.

The winged death's head looks so very different, as if it was carved by an entirely different hand, and for a different reason.  What is it?  What does it mean? Why is it there?

Thanks to Jacqueline Church Simonds, much of the mystery had been solved.  With a background in the antiques business, she revealed that the winged death's head was a popular symbol with eighteenth century New England Puritans.  According to the Gettysburg website, "Its popularity is rooted in the Puritan loathing of icons, something they associated with Catholicism. The design was meant to be an “earthly and neutral symbol, serving as a graphic reminder of death and resurrection."

So Captain Hales was a Puritan, as well as a Freemason. We are learning more about him all the time. 

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