Another Vampire Exhumed In Bulgaria

The body of a vampire has been excavated in Bulgaria, the Sofia Globe reports.

Archaeologists excavating at the historic site of Perperikon uncovered the grave of a man weighed down with a ploughshare over his chest. This was a common folk practice to keep a body from rising from its grave as a vampire. The individual was a man aged about 35-40 and he was carrying coins dated to the 13th and 14th century.

The discovery is part of ongoing excavations at Perperikon, an important city in eastern Bulgaria that was occupied from at least 5000 BC through the Middle Ages.

Last year archaeologists found several vampire graves in another part of the country. And these aren’t the first to have been discovered. Usually they have iron stakes or nails through their hearts. Only one other has been found with the ploughshare treatment.

Video Tour Of Historic New England Graveyards

Cemeteries can be inspiring. I know a lot of people who will go to great lengths to avoid visiting hospitals, nursing homes, cemeteries and anyplace else that reminds them that one day they’re going to die. I won’t admit to being a fan of hospitals and nursing homes, but I like visiting old cemeteries.

They give us a glimpse into history and remind us of our own mortality. If you’re caught up in your day-to-day life and need to be reminded of the big picture, visit a cemetery and you’ll be reminded that life is short and we all end up six feet under at one point or another, rich or poor, black, white or yellow.

New England has some of the country’s oldest and most interesting cemeteries. My favorite is Old Burial Hill in Marblehead, Massachusetts, one of America’s most beautiful and oldest settlements. The cemetery was founded in 1638, some nine years after the town was first settled, and it offers a glimpse at the history of the town, plus a view of the historic center and the sea. There are more than 600 revolutionary soldiers buried at Old Burial Hill but most aren’t marked.

Many of the oldest tombstones have ghoulish likenesses of crude winged skulls, which tells me that our forefathers weren’t as squeamish about death as we are. Take a look around Old Burial Hill and you’ll understand why – life in Colonial America was precarious and health care was nonexistent – there are scores of babies and young adults buried here.

If you’re in the Boston area and you like visiting old cemeteries, definitely check out the circa 1659 Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, which is right down the street from the Old North Church in the North End, and the city’s oldest cemetery, King’s Chapel, founded in 1630 right in the hear of the city.

[Photos and Videos by Dave Seminara]

Woodlawn Cemetery named National Historic Landmark

New Yorkers have always known that Woodlawn Cemetery was someplace special. This Bronx burial ground is the final home for many of the rich and famous. It’s beautiful too, a parklike setting with 400 acres of ornate headstones and mausoleums, such as this one for Frank Winfield Woolworth. Yes, that Woolworth.

Founded in 1863 in an age when wealthy families vied with each other to have the most elaborate mausoleum, it attracts thousands of visitors a year who don’t even know anyone buried there. The public certainly knows of many of them: Harry Carey, David Farragut, Duke Ellington, Fiorello La Guardia, Frank Belknap Long, Herman Melville, Bat Masterson, and Joseph Pulitzer to name a few.

Now the cemetery has been named a national Historic Landmark, the highest honor that can be given to a U.S. historic site. Visiting Woodlawn makes a soothing and contemplative break from the high-powered vibe of New York City. If you like cemetery art, check out our picks of creepy and beautiful cemeteries around the world.

[Image courtesy Woodlawn Cemetery]

Creepy and beautiful cemeteries around the world

Cemeteries aren’t the first places most people go to while on vacation, but they can tell a lot about a culture and its history. We all have to die sometime and the way we deal with the dead says a lot about ourselves.

Some cemeteries are overgrown and covered in moss. Others are orderly and well-kept. Some are beautiful, and can inspire wonderful photographs like the one taken here by user Perrimoon over at Flickr. Sometimes graveyards can be downright dangerous, like the cemetery in Haworth, England, famous as the hometown of the Brontë sisters. The dead were literally stacked ten deep in this graveyard and the stream that provided the town’s water flowed right through them!

Some of the best free sights in Paris are cemeteries. The same goes for New York. My pick for the best place to see cemeteries is Rome, the city of the dead, which has splendid Renaissance tombs, ancient Roman gravestones, and mummified monks.

Do you have some good cemetery shots? Join us over at Gadling’s flickr pool and show us your art. You might just get picked for Photo of the Day!


Art for free in Paris? Paris’ cemeteries are beautiful and free.

Ah, Paris. City of light. City of magic. City of art. City of admission fees to view art.

Stepping inside the Louvre will cost you $14.00. Want the audio guide? Another 8 bucks. How about seeing one of the temporary exhibitions? That’ll set you back another $16.00. How about an espresso to caffeinate the experience? Plunk down $5.00, please. While no trip to Paris is complete without a foray to the Louve, spending that much money every day is going to result in a quick evaporation of your resources. You came to Paris to see fabulous art, but dang some days you get overwhelmed with the prices and the crowds. What to do? How about seeing world-class sculpture by some of the same artists whose works are exhibited in Paris’ pricy museums and galleries for free? Get thee to a cemetery. First up is Père Lachaise Cemetery, the world’s first “garden cemetery,” established in 1804.

Père Lachaise
48 51’35.95″N 2 23’20.51″E (Main Entrance)
A dozen years ago about the only ambulatory people in this magnificent cemetery were black-shrouded Goths who were on a pilgrimage to see the grave of their fallen high priest, Jim Morrison, or local Parisians who were out for a quiet stroll. That has all changed. Père Lachaise has been discovered. Not to worry, you’ll still be quite alone, at least by big city standards. You may have company around the permanent homes of some of the major celebrities, but wander off the main paths and you’ll get the serenity you want and at all times you’ll be surrounded by the magnificent sculpture you came to Paris to see. Better yet, it’s all FREE … but first things first.

(Père Lachaise)Before embarking on your eternal excursion, download a map and chart your path. (Vendors around the perimeter of the cemetery also sell reasonably-priced detailed maps). Then hop on the Metro and get off at (where else?) the Père Lachaise station. You probably won’t be able to resist making a beeline for JIM so do that if you must, then plan your path from there. Alas, Morrison’s grave is a pretty pedestrian affair, but, well, it is Jim.

(The grave of Jim Morrison.)

Other must-sees are the lipstick-kisses-covered-genitalia-abbreviated tomb of Oscar Wilde, the statue of journalist turned fertility god Victor Noir, dancer Isadora Duncan, writer Gertrude Stein, singer Edith Piaf, composer Chopin, glass artist Renè Jules Lalique and star-crossed lovers Heloise and Abelard. You can easily spend a day at Père Lachaise, but you can always come back and many people do, over and over again. Best haste; there are other boneyard bonanzas awaiting.

(Oscar Wilde’s tomb.)

Montparnasse Cemetery
48 50’10.13″N 219’39.04″E
Montparnasse Cemetery is home to Constantin Brancusi. A rendition of his sculpture, The Kiss, adorns his grave. Poet Charles Baudelaire has a suitably poetic tomb. And don’t miss the over-the-top tomb of Charles Pigeon, the inventor of non-explosive gas lamp. Pigeon’s tomb is a massive polished granite bed complete with a bronze sculpture of Pigeon and his wife. There are dozens of other sculptors, composers, actors, writers, singers and painters reposing at Montparnasse and you can easily spend hours tracking them down.

(Brancusi’s grave, topped with The Kiss.)

(Baudelaire’s tomb.)

(Pigeon’s grave.)

Saint-Vincent Cemetery
48 53′ 20.27″ N 02 20 21.20″ E
This postage-stamp-sized cemetery doesn’t have a lot of notable residents but its eclectic tombs and slanting hillside location make it a pleasant place for an unencumbered stroll.

Montemarte Cemetery
48 53’7.15″N 2 19’51.75″E
If nothing else, Montemarte Cemetery is a study in urban intrusion. Urban cemeteries have long been victims of city swell. Often the residents of these cemeteries are exhumed and deposited elsewhere with little or no fanfare. However, at Montemarte road designers figured out a way to thread a motorway above and through the burial ground. Sitting at the bus stop surrounded by petite mausoleums presents a unique opportunity to contemplate one’s mortality.

Paris Catacombs
48 50’1.99″N 2 19’56.06″E
Okay, this ones gonna cost you about 12 bucks, but for the truly macabre-motivated the Paris Catacombs are not to be missed. In the late 18th century, officials ordered the closure of various burial grounds in Paris and the transfer of the bones to abandoned underground quarries that at the time were just south of the city. In the next few decades the bones of approximately 6 million expired Parisians found their way to what became the Catacombs of Paris. The catacombs are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Bring a light jacket and sturdy shoes (130 steps down on a spiral staircase).

Douglas R. Keister is a graveyard guru, who Sunset magazine said “has done for cemetery exploration what Audubon did for birding.” His 39 books include four books on cemeteries such as Stories in the Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography. Read his blog on Red Room.