Historical Graveyards

Some people get the creeps when they see or even think about graveyards. I however find them very interesting places. Not only historically, but because such places can inspire profound thoughts about life and what it all might really mean.

Cross Bones

Situated in South London, Cross Bones is a disused post-medieval burial ground, which was established for "single women," a euphemism for prostitutes. These women were buried on unconsecrated ground. According to antiquarian John Stow's Survey of London in 1598, "these single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial".

Cross BonesCredit: Flickr Loz Flowers

The cemetery was closed in 1853, when the graveyard was deemed to be "completely overcharged with dead". In 1883, the land was sold as a building site, however  Lord Brabazon in a letter to The Times, begged that the land be saved from "such desecration." Constable writes that the sale was declared null and void the following year. Subsequent attempts were made to develop the site, but the site was only briefly used as a fairground due to opposition by the local people.

Research carried out on the bodies from Cross Bones, has found that 1/3 were were perinatal (between 22 weeks gestation and seven days after birth)and a further 11 percent were under one year old. The adults were mostly women aged 36 years and older, who suffered from diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis, Paget's disease, osteoarthritis, and vitamin D deficiency.

Onava Mexico Graveyard

Maya Skull ShapingCredit: wikipedia

Deformed HeadCredit: wikipedia

Only recently about 13 "alien like" skulls, believed to be about 1000 years old, were found in a cemetery near Onava, Mexico. Five of these skulls also have dental mutilation, a practice which was common in pre-Hispanic group from southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit. Jewellery was also found with the skulls, which included things like: shell necklaces, nose rings and bangles. The director of the project conducted by Arizona State University, USA, said that: “With this discovery extends the limit of influence of Mesoamerican Peoples farther north: than had been recorded archeology” by previous archaeological finds." (Institute National Anthropology and History).

 La Chiesa dei Morti


Mummies(124456)Credit: Flickr Paolo

Journey to Urbania in central Italy, enter the Baroque doorway of the Church of the Dead and discover the mummies cemetery. 18 mummified bodies have been there since 1833, when the bodies of the people were exhumed. Standing macabrely inside glass cases, these natural mummies became this way due to a mould which consumed the moisture of the bodies.

The Brotherhood of Good Death, an order founded 400 years ago, is responsible for the mummies. You can however take a tour and learn about the mummies, finding out which was murdered and which one had Down's syndrome. 

Saint Louis Cemetery

 New Orleans(124654)Credit: wikipedia
 New Orleans sits below sea level and so has a very high water table. This has created a problem for those who wish to bury their dead, as coffins due to the rising water, have a tendency to float in the saturated soil, or to pop right out of the ground whenever it rains. Floods have caused coffins to float down streets and even become lodged in trees. To overcome this problem, above ground crypts and mausoleums were created.
At St. Louis Cemetery #1, you can visit the grave of Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, or perhaps Marie Laveau, the famous Voodoo queen. At St. Louis #2, lies the remains of Dominique You, a privateer, pirate, and soldier.

 Merry Cemetery

 Picture of the Merry Cemetery of SăpânÅ£aCredit: wikipedia
Merry cemetery is....well merry. It is not a sombre, spooky or depressing place like most cemeteries, but celebrates life and death. The reason for this is due to the influence of ancient Dacian culture, which saw death as the beginning of a joyful new life.
The tombs with their colourful blue paint also display poems and stories about the dead, as well as pictures and evidence of the hobbies and interests of the departed person. It is an eccentric and yet wonderful place. Example of an epitaph:

Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother in-law
Three more days she would have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause' if she comes back home
She'll criticise me more.
But I'll behave so well
That she'll not return from hell.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!

Sagada "hanging coffins"

Sagada hanging coffinsCredit: wikipedia

Located on the island of the Philippines, north of Manilla, you can find the town of Banaue, where the local custom was for the elderly person to make their own coffin before they died. The coffin containing the body would then be placed in a cave, or would sit on natural rock projections on the face of a cliff. The idea behind the "hanging coffins" was to protect the dead from being taken by animals.

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

The Old Jewish CemeteryCredit: wikipedia

One of the oldest preserved tombstones in the Old Jewish Cemetery, dates from 1439. It is not known how many dead are buried here, because there are layers of tombs; however there are about 12,000 tombstones visible.

According to Jewish religious laws, tombstones and graves must not be removed, but there was no more available land and more space was needed. This led to 12 layers of tombs, one on top of another in some places.

This cemetery also attracts the interest of wacky conspiracy theorists, who believe that this is the secret venue of the Elders of Zion, as outlined in the antisemitic hoax The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, which describes a Jewish plan for global domination. Unfortunately in the past, people like Henry Ford  and Adolf Hitler believed such a document was valid and the result was catastrophic for the Jewish people.

Jewish cemetery in Prague

1928 Jewelry Black Victorian Teardrop Pendant Necklace
Amazon Price: $14.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 13, 2013)