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  • Writer's pictureNancy Rogers

Beyond the Pale

You’ve probably heard the term “beyond the pale,” but never really known what it means, right? It’s kind of an old term, but it has lots of meanings: unacceptable, objectionable, indecent, offensive, improper, etc.

But if you’re into cemeteries like me, you need to know that “beyond the pale,” has an altogether different meaning. And the meaning is best explained with these photographs:

In iconographic terms, the pale is the scarf that is draped on top of the urn or cross as in this photographs.

In cemetery talk, the pale marks the visible separation between life and death. It is meant to be powerful in that something is either beyond the pale (as in death) or it’s not.

You will find pales draped over any number of things, but an urn is the most common.





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