St John’s Episcopal Church located at
the foot of Glen Coe on the shore of Loch Leven has to be one of the most picturesque locations for a
graveyard. In late May and early June, the grounds are blanketed by a sea of
Within the grounds a small stone storehouse with slate roof surmounted by a wooden cross was converted to a chapel in the late 1700s. The existing church was built in 1842.
Most of the graves marked by cast iron botonee crosses are identified only by a number.
Many of the gravestones were made from durable slate, hence the clarity of engravings and dedications.
The Cairo Necropolis is a cemetery covering four miles in Cairo, Egypt.
It is a dense grid of tomb and mausoleum
structures which house the graves of the deceased. Many of the inhabitants
choose to live there to be close to their relatives. However, more than half a
million inhabitants exist due to homelessness as a result of unemployment, overpopulation
and earthquakes. Generations of families live there, some people living their
entire lives with the dead.
The Necropolis is an active cemetery and burials still take place as inhabitants watch on. It is illegal to live there yet the government has given up on evictions, and now many of the buildings within the cemetery have running water and electricity. Within are bakery shops, cafés and markets, and as with all small cities there is crime.
Across central China in the remote valleys to the south of
the Yangtze River, you will find the most unique burial places. The hanging coffins
are suspended so high that they are often barely visible from the ground below.
They have been discovered in crevices of the cliff face, anchored on limestone
rock about 30 meters high (almost 100 feet), balanced on wooden cantilevered
stakes, or stacked in man-made caves 300 feet up in Guizhou province, a
landlocked, mountainous province in central south China.
This ‘burial’ practice was followed by Yao and Miao minorities in the region. It is believed that the higher the coffins were placed, and therefore closer to Heaven, the greater the respect of the deceased. The suspension of the coffins slowed down decomposition of the body which ensured afterlife and immortality of the spirit; and on a more practical aspect it prevented animals from poaching the bodies and kept land free to farm.
The practice of hanging coffins can also be found in the Philippines,
most famously in Sagada.
Another curiosity of the Miao ethnic group is the belief in a supernatural power around them that decides their fate. The Miao worship tree spirits and equate human life cycles with those of trees. Firs are the only wood used for burial and only firs over 60 years old are large enough. Therefore, villagers plant trees for themselves and their descendants every year. New parents plant a fir sapling from which their children’s future coffin will be carved.
Following the burial another young tree is transplanted atop the grave site – this is the only marker for the deceased – transforming what should be a cemetery into a forest of trees.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground on Tremont Street in Boston, Massachusetts, was dedicated in 1689 and is the oldest burying place in Boston proper. Although the cemetery is small it contains many stones going back to the 1600s. Burials ceased here in 1796.
Mark the perfect man and behold the uprights for the end of that man is peace. 1924
is somewhat overshadowed by the church, adjacent buildings and several trees
within the grounds. A bell made in England was hung in 1772 until it cracked in
1814 and was then recast by Paul Revere. It still rings before every service.
Two bronze plaques attached
to the railing at the entrance of the cemetery identify some of the more famous people buried here. The burying ground was added to
the National Register of Historic Places
In the early
1800s, many of the gravestones were moved from their original position and
placed in rows, so it is impossible to tell the exact location of some of the
graves. In olden times a great deal of excitement was caused by a rumor that
someone had been buried alive there, but the affair ended uneventfully when the
doctor who had attended the deceased testified in the matter.
To him that overcometh and keepeth my work. To the end will I give the morning star He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him. 1900