A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been reinterred elsewhere. Although the vast majority of cenotaphs honour individuals, many noted cenotaphs are instead dedicated to the memories of groups of individuals, such as the lost soldiers of a country or of an empire.
The English word "cenotaph" derives from the Greek : κενοτάφιονkenotaphion (κενός kenos, meaning "empty", and τάφος taphos, "tomb").
Cenotaphs were common in the ancient world. Many were built in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and across Northern Europe (in the shape of Neolithic barrows).
The cenotaph in Whitehall, London — designed in 1919 by Sir Edwin Lutyens — influenced the design of many other war memorials in Britain and in the British sectors of the Western Front, as well as those in other Commonwealth nations. Lutyen's cenotaph was chosen as a deliberately secular monument.
The Church of Santa Engrácia, in Lisbon, Portugal, turned into a National Pantheon in 1966, holds six cenotaphs, namely to Luís de Camões, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and Henry the Navigator.
The Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, contains a number of cenotaphs, including one for Dante Alighieri, who is buried in Ravenna.
Durban, South Africa, has a striking and unusual cenotaph made of granite and lavishly decorated with brightly coloured ceramics.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa, has a cenotaph. Located on the edge of St George's Park in Rink Street, it was designed by Elizabeth Gardner to commemorate the men who died in the First World War (1914–1918) and was erected by the monumental mason firm of Pennachini Bros. On either side of the central sarcophagus are statues by Technical College Art School principal, James Gardner, who served in the trenches during the war. One depicts St George and the Dragon, the other depicts the sanctity of family life. Surrounding the sarcophagus are a number of bas-relief panels depicting scenes and people during the First World War. It was unveiled by Mrs W F Savage and dedicated by Canon Mayo on 10 November 1929. A surrounding memorial wall commemorates the men and women killed during World War II.
In Livingstone there is a cenotaph at the Eastern Cataract of The Victoria Falls with the names of the men of Northern Rhodesia who died during the Great War 1914–18. It was unveiled by Prince Arthur of Connaught on 1 August 1923.
There is also a cenotaph in Lusaka at Embassy Park, opposite the Cabinet Office along Independence Avenue, and commemorates those Zambians who fought and died in World Wars I & II. The cenotaph was commemorated in 1977.
A monument which has come to be known to as the "Cenotaph" was erected in Plaza San Martín, in downtown Buenos Aires, to commemorate the Argentinian soldiers who died during the Falklands War, in 1982. The monument consists of a series of plaques of black marble with the names of the fallen, surrounding a flame, and during the day is guarded by two soldiers.
Another cenotaph, which is a replica of the Argentine Military Cemetery in Darwin on the Falkland Islands, exists in Campo de Mayo, a large Army facility and training field just outside Buenos Aires.
A limestone replica of the Cenotaph at Whitehall in London was erected outside the Cabinet Building in Hamilton, Bermuda (with the cornerstone laid in 1920, and the completed monument unveiled in 1925).
In Canada, major cenotaphs commemorating the nation's war dead in World War I and later conflicts include the National War Memorial (a cenotaph surmounted by a bronze sculpture entitled "The Response") in Ottawa; Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Victoria, St. John's, Halifax, and the Victory Square Cenotaph, in Vancouver, British Columbia. and in Midland Ontario.
In the Falkland Islands, there are several war memorials to commemorate those killed in the Falklands War in 1982. The main memorial for Falkland Islanders is the 1982 Liberation Memorial, a cenotaph erected in Stanley in 1984 which lists all the British Army regiments, RAF squadrons, Royal Navy vessels and the Royal Marine formations and units that took part in the conflict. The names of the 255 British military personnel who died during the war are listed on ten plaques behind the Memorial, divided into the service branches.
Services are held at the Memorial each year on 14 June (Liberation Day)and on Remembrance Sunday, with wreaths being laid at the foot of the Memorial.
In the United States, a cenotaph in Yale University's Hewitt Quad (or Beinecke Plaza) honours men of Yale who died in battle. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial in Dallas is often described as a cenotaph.
The Battle Monument in Baltimore, Maryland commemorates the Battle of Baltimore, the Battle of North Point on 12 September 1814, the Bombardment of Fort McHenry on 13–14 September, and the stand-off on Loudenschlager's Hill (now Hampstead Hill in Patterson Park). It has an Egyptian Revival cenotaph base, surmounted by a fasces bound together with ribbons bearing the names of the dead. It was designed by French émigré architect Maximilian Godefroy in 1815, and construction was completed in 1827. It is considered[ who? ] the first war memorial in America, and an early example of a memorial to individual soldiers. The Monument appears on the Seal and the Logo of the City of Baltimore, and serves as a symbol for any agencies of the municipal government.
A cenotaph for the defenders of the Battle of the Alamo (March 1836) stands in front of the Alamo mission chapel in San Antonio, Texas. The cenotaph is empty because the remains of the fallen were cremated.
Atop War Memorial Chapel at Virginia Tech, there is a cenotaph honouring all Virginia Tech cadets who have been killed in battle. Inscribed upon the cenotaph are the names of the seven Virginia Tech alumni who have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
The United States Capitol was constructed with the intention that it house the tomb of George Washington and contains a crypt and burial chamber directly below its rotunda. Due to a disagreement between his family, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the federal government, his body was never moved there, making it a de facto cenotaph.
In Asia, the Cenotaph in Central District of Hong Kong Island, cenotaphs in Kuala Lumpur, George Town, Ipoh, Seremban and Jesselton in Malaysia, the Cenotaph in Singapore, the Cenotaph in Colombo and the stone Cenotaph in the new Allenby Square, Romema, Jerusalem – were erected as memorials to the war dead of World War I.
Various cenotaphs in Asia have also been erected to commemorate the dead from events outside conventional Western coverage. The concrete Memorial Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was designed by Kenzo Tange to commemorate the victims of the August 1945 atomic bomb attacks. The cenotaph at the 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei, Taiwan was erected as a memorial to the February 28 incident. In the Philippines, a cenotaph was erected inside the Manila North Cemetery in honour of the 24 Scouts who died in a plane crash en route to the 11th World Scout Jamboree.
In the Museum of Aquitaine, in Bordeaux, there is the famous cenotaph of Michel de Montaigne, a French Renaissance writer and philosopher. The tomb was sculpted in 1593, a year after his death on the request of his wife, Françoise de la Chassaigne, probably by Prieur and Guillerman, two Bordeaux ornamentists.
On the cenotaph, next to the coat of arm, there are two epitaphs, in Greek and in Latin. The one in Latin begins by : "To Michel de Montaigne, son of Pierre, grand-son of Grimond, grand-grand-son of Raymond, knight of Saint-Michel, ex-mayor of the city of Bordeaux, a man born for the glory, with gentle manners, a witty mind..."
A cenotaph in the UK that stands in Whitehall, London, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyensand replaced Lutyens' identical wood-and-plaster cenotaph erected in 1919 for the Allied Victory Parade, and is a Grade I listed building. It is undecorated save for a carved wreath on each end and the words "The Glorious Dead," chosen by Lloyd George. It was intended to commemorate specifically the victims of the First World War, but is used to commemorate all of the dead in all wars in which British servicemen and women have fought. The dates of the First World War and the Second World War are inscribed on it in Roman numerals. The design was used in the construction of many other war memorials throughout the British Empire.
The Cenotaph in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is located in the grounds of Belfast City Hall and is set within a Garden of Remembrance. It is about 9.5 metres (31 ft) high and presents several carvings including laurel wreaths, symbolising victory and honour. The Cenotaph is the site of the annual Northern Ireland memorial held on Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11 November (Armistice Day).
Ottoman-ruled Jerusalem surrendered to the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force under General Edmund Allenby during the Battle of Jerusalem in December 1917 during World War I. A cenotaph was erected in 1920 at the historical site of the surrender, later to be named Allenby Square. The inscription dedicates it to the fallen of the 60th London Division.
In Australia, Anzac Day commemorations are usually held at all of the nation's many war memorials, but not all of them are cenotaphs. Cenotaphs include the Hobart Cenotaph and the Sydney Cenotaph.
Anzac Day commemorations are usually held at local war memorials as in Australia. Cenotaphs include the Dunedin Cenotaph, the Wellington Cenotaph and the Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph (a copy of the Whitehall Cenotaph).
Although most notable cenotaphs commemorate notable individuals buried elsewhere, many cenotaphs pay tribute to people whose remains have never been located, particularly those lost at sea. Some such cenotaphs are dedicated to victims of the RMS Titanic whose bodies were not recovered after the sinking. Although Isidor Straus's body was recovered, Ida Straus's body was not, and a cenotaph at the Straus Mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is dedicated to Isidor and Ida together. Its inscription reads: "Many waters cannot quench love – neither can the floods drown it."(Song of Solomon 8:7) The striking cenotaph of Major Archibald Butt, aide to U.S. President William Taft, is located at Arlington National Cemetery.
In Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands of Ireland, drowning was formerly such a common cause of death for island fishermen that each family had a memorial to those lost at sea known as leachtaí cuimhneacháin (memorial cairns). Most were erected in the 19th century, although some date back to the eighteenth. A modern memorial was erected in 1997.
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In India, cenotaphs are a basic element of Hindu architecture, later used by Moghuls as seen in most of the mausoleums of Mughal Emperors which have two burial chambers, the upper one with a cenotaph, as in Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, or the Taj Mahal, Agra, while the real tomb often lies exactly below it, or further removed. The term chhatri, used for these canopylike structures, comes from Hindustani word literally meaning umbrella, and are found throughout the northwestern region of Rajasthan as well as in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, chhatris are built on the cremation sites of wealthy or distinguished individuals. Chhatris in Shekhawati may consist of a simple structure of one dome raised by four pillars to a building containing many domes and a basement with several rooms. In some places, the interior of the chhatri is painted in the same manner as the Haveli.
Cenotaphs have also been the subject of a number of illustrations including:
Cenotaph is used in Henry Ellison's(1833) poem, Scientific Theories:
O Science! proud Iconoclast, thy way
Is strewed with fragments of our reverence
And love—idols with small or no pretence,
Right oft, upon their pedestals to stay,
The light oft intercepting of God's day,
E'en in His Temple! Light too pure, intense,
Which puts the eye out, dazzles the weak sense
Of mere Humanity, after its clay
Shaping its images. But take thou good heed
Thou dost not, in self-blindness and self-pride,
Pluck down the Temple's self, and, in its stead
And on its ruins, strewed far and wide,
Building as not for Living but True-dead,
A cenotaph for Man's lost Soul provide!
Mentioned in Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
In the Internet age, virtual cenotaphs are common in the game World of Warcraft.and in The Elder Scrolls Series games though modding add ons.
They have also been created in the augmented reality game Ingress in honour of the slain MIT police officer Sean Collierand in memory of the victims of the 1942 Struma disaster.
On 13 January 2016, Belgian amateur astronomers at MIRA Public Observatory dedicated, in conjunction with radio station Studio Brussels, an asterism of seven stars in the vicinity of Mars which had been photographed at the exact time of David Bowie's death; when appropriately connected they form the iconic lightning bolt of Aladdin Sane.
The Tower Hill Memorial is a pair of Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials in Trinity Square, on Tower Hill in London, England. The memorials, one for the First World War and one for the Second, commemorate civilian merchant sailors and fishermen who were killed as a result of enemy action and have no known grave. The first, the Mercantile Marine War Memorial, was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1928; the second, the Merchant Seamen's Memorial, was designed by Sir Edward Maufe and unveiled in 1955. A third memorial, commemorating merchant sailors who were killed in the 1982 Falklands War, was added to the site in 2005.
A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in a war.
The Old City Hall Cenotaph is a cenotaph located at the front steps of Old City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The Cenotaph is a war memorial constructed in 1923 and located between Statue Square and the City Hall in Central, Hong Kong, that commemorates the dead in the two world wars who served in Hong Kong in the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. Built in stone, it is an almost exact replica of the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London, UK. It is listed as a monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance.
The Sydney Cenotaph is a heritage-listed monument located in Martin Place, in the Sydney, Australia. It was designed by Bertram Mackennal and built from 1927 to 1929 by Dorman Long & Co. It is also known as Martin Place Memorial and The Cenotaph. It is one of the oldest World War I monuments in central Sydney. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 11 November 2009.
Manchester Cenotaph is a war memorial in St Peter's Square, Manchester, England. Manchester was late in commissioning a First World War memorial compared with most British towns and cities; the city council did not convene a war memorial committee until 1922. The committee quickly achieved its target of raising £10,000 but finding a suitable location for the monument proved controversial. The preferred site in Albert Square would have required the removal and relocation of other statues and monuments, and was opposed by the city's artistic bodies. The next choice was Piccadilly Gardens, an area already identified for a possible art gallery and library; but in the interests of speedier delivery, the memorial committee settled on St Peter's Square. The area within the square had been had been purchased by the City Council in 1906, having been the site of the former St Peter's Church; whose sealed burial crypts remained with burials untouched and marked above ground by a memorial stone cross. Negotiations to remove these stalled so the construction of the cenotaph proceeded with the cross and burials in situ.
The Cenotaph is a war memorial on Whitehall in London, England. Its origin is in a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War, and after an outpouring of national sentiment it was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom's official national war memorial.
Southampton Cenotaph is a First World War memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and located in Watts Park in Southampton, southern England. The memorial was the first of dozens by Lutyens to be built in permanent form and it influenced his later designs, including The Cenotaph on Whitehall in London. It is a tapering, multi-tiered pylon which culminates in a series of diminishing layers before terminating in a sarcophagus which features a recumbent figure of a soldier. In front is an altar-like Stone of Remembrance. The cenotaph contains multiple sculptural details including a prominent cross, the town's coat of arms, and two lions. The names of the dead are inscribed on three sides. Although similar in outline, Lutyens' later cenotaphs were much more austere and featured almost no sculpture. The design uses abstract, ecumenical features and lifts the recumbent soldier high above eye level, anonymising him.
Rochdale Cenotaph is a First World War memorial on the Esplanade in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in the north west of England. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, it is one of seven memorials in England based on his Cenotaph in London and one of his more ambitious designs. The memorial was unveiled in 1922 and consists of a raised platform bearing Lutyens' characteristic Stone of Remembrance next to a 10-metre (33 ft) pylon topped by an effigy of a recumbent soldier. A set of painted stone flags surrounds the pylon.
The Midland Railway War Memorial is a First World War memorial in Derby in the East Midlands of England. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1921. The memorial commemorates employees of the Midland Railway who died while serving in the armed forces during the First World War. The Midland was one of the largest railway companies in Britain in the early 20th century, and the largest employer in Derby, where it had its headquarters. Around a third of the company's workforce, some 23,000 men, left to fight, of whom 2,833 were killed.
The Arch of Remembrance is a First World War memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and located in Victoria Park, Leicester, in the East Midlands of England. Leicester's industry contributed significantly to the British war effort. A temporary war memorial was erected in 1917, and a committee was formed in 1919 to propose a permanent memorial. The committee resolved to appoint Lutyens as architect and to site the memorial in Victoria Park. Lutyens's first proposal was accepted by the committee but was scaled back and eventually cancelled due to a shortage of funds. The committee then asked Lutyens to design a memorial arch, which he presented to a public meeting in 1923.
The South African War Memorial is a First World War memorial in Richmond Cemetery in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial is in the form of a cenotaph, similar to that on Whitehall, also by Lutyens. It was commissioned by the South African Hospital and Comforts Fund Committee to commemorate the 39 South African soldiers who died of their wounds at a military hospital in Richmond Park during the First World War. The memorial was unveiled by General Jan Smuts in 1921 and was the focus of pilgrimages from South Africa through the 1920s and 1930s, after which it was largely forgotten until the 1980s when the Commonwealth War Graves Commission took responsibility for its maintenance. It has been a grade II listed building since 2012.
There are 20 Grade I listed war memorials in England, out of over 3,000 listed war memorials. In the United Kingdom, a listed building is a building or structure of special historical or architectural importance; listing offers the building legal protection against demolition or modification, which requires permission from the local planning authority. Listed buildings are divided into three categories—grade I, grade II*, and grade II—which reflect the relative significance of the structure and may be a factor in planning decisions. Grade II accounts for 92% of listed buildings, while grade II* is an intermediate grade accounting for 5.5%; grade I holds the remaining 2.5% of listed buildings and is reserved for structures of exceptional significance. Grade I listed war memorials are deliberately very few, though several have been upgraded to grade I status as part of commemorations around the First World War centenary. A war memorial listed at grade I will be of exceptional interest for its design and artistic merit and will be of great historical interest. Such memorials are often the work of famous architects or sculptors, amongst the most prolific of whom was Sir Edwin Lutyens, whose memorials account for a third of all those listed at grade I. Lutyens designed dozens of war memorials across the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, including the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London—the focus for the national Remembrance Sunday services—and the Arch of Remembrance in Leicester—the largest of Lutyens' war memorials in Britain; both are listed at grade I. As part of the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War, Historic England—the government body responsible for listing in England—is running a project with the aim of significantly increasing the number of war memorials on the National Heritage List for England.
Spalding War Memorial is a First World War memorial in the gardens of Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding, Lincolnshire, in eastern England. It was designed by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. The proposal for a memorial to Spalding's war dead originated in January 1918 with Barbara McLaren, whose husband and the town's Member of Parliament, Francis McLaren, was killed in a flying accident during the war. She engaged Lutyens via a family connection and the architect produced a plan for a grand memorial cloister surrounding a circular pond, in the middle of which would be a cross. The memorial was to be built in the formal gardens of Ayscoughfee Hall, which was owned by the local district council. When McLaren approached the council with her proposal, it generated considerable debate within the community and several alternative schemes were suggested. After a public meeting and a vote in 1919, a reduced-scale version of McLaren's proposal emerged as the preferred option, in conjunction with a clock on the town's corn exchange building.
Northampton War Memorial, officially the Town and County War Memorial, is a First World War memorial on Wood Hill in the centre of Northampton, the county town of Northamptonshire, in central England. Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, it is a Stone of Remembrance flanked by twin obelisks draped with painted stone flags standing in a small garden in what was once part of the churchyard of All Saints' Church.
Norwich War Memorial is a First World War memorial in Norwich in Eastern England. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the last of his eight cenotaphs to be erected in England. Prior to Lutyens' involvement, several abandoned proposals had been made for commemorating Norwich's war dead, and by 1926 the newly elected lord mayor was determined to see the construction of a memorial before he left office. He established an appeal to raise funds for local hospitals in memory of the dead as well as a physical monument. He commissioned Lutyens, who designed an empty tomb (cenotaph) atop a low screen wall from which protrudes a Stone of Remembrance. Bronze flambeaux at either end can burn gas to emit a flame. Lutyens also designed a roll of honour, on which the names of the city's dead are listed, which was installed in Norwich Castle in 1931.
Southend-on-Sea War Memorial, or Southend War Memorial, is a First World War memorial in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, on the east coast of England. Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, it is a Grade II* listed building.
The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Cenotaph is a First World War memorial dedicated to members of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment and located in Maidstone in Kent, south-eastern England. Unveiled in 1921, the memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens following his design for the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London and is today a grade II* listed building.
The Royal Berkshire Regiment War Memorial or Royal Berkshire Regiment Cenotaph is a First World War memorial dedicated to members of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and located in Brock Barracks in Reading, Berkshire, in south-east England. Unveiled in 1921, the memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, based on his design for the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London, and is today a grade II* listed building.
The Welch Regiment War Memorial, also known as the Maindy Monument is a First World War memorial at Maindy Barracks in the Cathays area of Cardiff in Wales. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and follows his design for the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London. Unveiled in 1924, it commemorates men of the Welch Regiment who fell in the First World War, and is today a grade II listed building.
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