The Old Tombstone (Denton Cenotaph)

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One of Virginia’s most important works of folk art, The Old Tombstone (also known as the Denton Cenotaph) was carved sometime after 1805 by Laurence Krone, the most noted of the early-19th-century Roanoke Valley German stone carvers. Krone’s only signed work, the monument is located in a cemetery on a ridge just north of the city of Roanoke.  It was designed as a memorial to the young Robert Denton and as a register of his immediate family. The Old Tombstone takes the form of a small coffin containing a folk image of the deceased child. Germanic folk motifs along with a lengthy inscription in Latin, German, and English decorate the surfaces. The head and upper torso were originally covered by a removable stone lid which has since disappeared. Krone, a native of central Europe, arrived in Virginia around 1800. Legend holds that The Old Tombstone was an expression of Krone’s gratitude for care received from the Denton family during an illness.

Last Updated: June 2, 2023

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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