A Numerical Mystery in a Welsh Churchyard

See the lowermost symbol - what are its origins?
See the lowermost symbol - what are its origins?

Whilst on a trip to North Wales during late Summer last year I found myself in the tiny settlement of Tal-y-llyn in the county of Gwynedd, wandering amongst graves being slowly reclaimed by the weeds in the cemetery of the now privately owned St. Mary’s church.

There are almost always ornate designs and hand-carved Type to admire on the headstones in such places – testaments as much to the skilled stonemasons who carved them as to the deceased themselves. Intricately chiselled motifs rife with symbolism are ever present – hourglasses, weeping willows, cherubs .etc but the anomaly on the memorial in the photo above – a simple circle intersecting with an inverted triangle caught my eye, and soon afterwards I spotted it on several others, all seemingly from around the same time period.

81 is almost certainly an unreasonably high age for someone in the 18th century to reach, so I'm inclined to believe this glyph depicts another number - possibly a '6'.
81 is almost certainly an unreasonably high age for someone in the 18th century to reach, so I'm inclined to believe this glyph depicts another number - possibly a '6'.

In the second example it becomes obvious that it’s a numeral, presumably used in place of a ‘6’ or an ‘8’, but I can’t find a similar instance after much research, going down rabbit holes of Greek characters, alchemic symbols and other antiquated numeric styles and systems. I’m almost certainly overthinking things here and it’s probably just some inane quirk of a local 18th-century stone-carver, but I can’t shake the feeling I’ve seen it elsewhere before in a different context.

I’ll let this lie for now, but if anyone knows anything – drop me a virtual line.

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