It's all Greek to me - Cecil Headlam's headstone

Can you decipher Classic Greek?

By Chris Rogers

Cecil Headlam was a well-known cricketer in his day as well as an author and book collector.  He died in Charing in 1934 where his grave is marked with a large headstone.

The stone carries the family crest and the usual inscription to his life, but it also has four lines of what appears to be Greek text.  Cecil's two brothers were both Greek scholars and one succeeded him in life.  The text doesn't seem to make sense to native Greeks so is it code or ancient Greek? Is it a family joke, or a test?

The text on the headstone contains an 'L' but in Greek there does not seem to be such a letter (although there are upside-down L's) so did the stonemason make a mistake?

If you can help decode the Greek text then please e-mail:  or leave a comment on this page.


A number of suggestions have been provided for this text, including the following from two scholars at Oxford University:

"Love bound this lovely union together all its days,

He loved his wife as much as May his love in turn repays"

(Cecil's wife was Mary May).

Also we've received this suggestion:

"The yoke of love, with goodly shape,

binds together the best.

As he once loved the woman lying (here?)

so then the good lady loves (him)."

Many thanks to everyone who has contacted us about this mysterious inscription.  Chris


Photo:The Greek text on Cecil Headlam's gravestone

The Greek text on Cecil Headlam's gravestone

Chris Rogers

Photo:Transcription of the Greek text complete with 'L'

Transcription of the Greek text complete with 'L'

This page was added by Chris Rogers on 27/07/2019.

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