DATE – 17/11/2019
TITLE - ARE CEMETERIES HAUNTED?
Living in Nottingham, I’ve been able to visit a fair few historical and impacting cemeteries. I seem to be drawn to them, there’s a joke about how I wander around them aimlessly with just my camera for company. It must be in us all, our love for the paranormal and our fascination with death means that such sites may act like a magnet for our haunted souls.
There are questions I’m asked on a regular basis when I post new images of the places I frequent – “Have you seen anything?” or “I bet that’s REALLY Haunted?”. The answer I give to those questions is along the lines of “Yes I’ve seen many things” and “Maybe it is?”
Of course, I’ve seen things, I’m fortunate enough to live on the doorstep of Rock Cemetery, one of the most iconic and unique graveyards that you could ever visit! With tombs and burial sites carved into the soft sandstone walls, I’ve witnessed more beauty in death than you could ever imagine, yet, are they haunted? I still can’t be sure. Let’s take a look at some of the more well-known reports and sightings from around the world to help us answer this ‘Simple’ question.
Location - Edinburgh, Scotland
Established - 1561-1562
The churchyard is said to be the most haunted in the UK. Burials have been taking place on the site since the late 1500's, and with that much history, combined with its gothic tombs, it really is a terrifying place to visit. The site has a long history of body snatching, in the 1800's this was common place for both money and medical practices, but many reports of unrested souls and disrespect to graves left the public wondering if it caused more harm than good? Many of Edinburgh’s elite are buried here with huge and impressive tombs, yet on cold wintery nights it has led the homeless to trespass and seek cover. There are many reports of these persons being found lifeless in the morning with the harsh wintery conditions claiming them.
Howard Street Cemetery
Location - Salem Massachusetts, US
Established - 1801
If you’ve ever looked into the paranormal then you would definitely have heard of Salem! Yet again this town cannot escape its relationship and connection to witchcraft. The current cemetery lies next to the Old Salem Jail, yet it’s haunting goes back much further than its registered date. After being caught up in the mania that was the Salem Witch trials of 1692, Giles Corey was tortured to death by way of pressing in an alley that now lies next to the cemetery. The Sherriff used rocks by piling them on his chest in an attempt to make Mr Corey admit to being a witch, but he never did. With his last dying breath, he is said to have put a curse on the town, and it’s said that his spirit now wanders the surrounding Jail and burial site.
La Recoleta Cemetery
Location - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Established - 1822
This world-famous cemetery lies on a former disbanded monastery and is now one of the most visited tourist destinations in Argentina. There are many reported sightings of ghosts and related hauntings, but the most prominent is of a young lady that died – TWICE! Yes, that’s right, Rufina Cambaceres’ body was found lifeless by her family on her 19th birthday in 1902. After being laid to rest in La Recoleta, she woke only to find herself buried alive. She scratched at the inside of the tomb and screamed for days but unfortunately passed away. When cemetery staff found that the tomb had been displaced, they discovered her tortured body and markings that told them that she was buried alive. An awful and upsetting story, her spirit is said to still haunt these sacred grounds to this day.
I’m sure many around the world would lay claim to having the ‘Most Haunted’ cemetery or the most violent burial sites. They catch the imagination like nothing else, but I’m going to lay claim to our very own in Nottingham and give my reasons why.
Church (Rock) Cemetery dates back to 1856 and covers around 13 acres in size. Home to many of Nottingham’s greats from former Sheriffs to Architects that shaped the city that stands today, it really is an iconic yet sometimes hidden treasure. Also hiding within its sandstone banks and chilling cave system come tales of sadness and misery, no more so than the paupers and children’s graves. The first documented burial at the site was that of a 12-month-old child that passed due to contracting whooping cough. Poor sanitation in the 19th century led to disease being rife and looking at many of the graves you can see that it impacted the young in a huge way. Although I have spent many an hour searching without success, there is a known documentation of a 30ft grave that contains the remains of 25 children alone. Mass and undignified burials were common place, many of the population were poor and they couldn’t afford the high costs and privileges that came with the elite of society. Although pain and suffering would have been the main cause of their death, this location wouldn’t have been the catalyst for their haunting. I find it hard to believe that the spirits of the children would be aimlessly wandering Rock Cemetery, but more believable that their parents returning for them would be.
The above shows an emotional and spiritual attachment that people may have with the site, yet more interestingly and more disturbing, the site was used for another purpose. The cemetery lies on what I like to call a paranormal highway. It is flanked by Mansfield Road and Forest Road. This junction has huge significance and strength in claim to being one of Nottinghamshire’s most haunting locations. Right near to what is now the entrance gate to the cemetery, used to stand Nottingham’s gallows. The exact location is debated, it would have been on flat ground and looking at the map it may even have been within the cemetery boundary. Executions took place here with the very last to occur on the 2nd April 1827. A man by the name of William Wells is the final recorded death by hanging, his crime of highway robbery was enough for him to be sentenced to death at the Old Shire Hall. His journey would have started at what is now the National Justice Museum (Old Shire Hall) he would have been taken along Bridlesmith Gate, up onto High Street and directly through to Clumber Street. After leaving Clumber Street he would have been straight lined along Milton Street and onto Mansfield Road where he would have met his fate. Hangings used to be a social event where the public could see criminals face ‘Justice’ and watch on with jeers and excitement. These events were high energy occasions that would have been distressing for the person in question, yet a celebration for those harmed or impacted by their actions. Lying on a junction, which would have most certainly acted as a gateway, where one specific spot lay claim to huge bursts of emotion and energy could possibly cause a paranormal frenzy! This is the reason, and the most plausible reason, that would give our famous
cemetery a justification for any hauntings it may have.
Having wandered its winding paths for many hours at a time, photographed its tranquillity and beauty, I still find it hard to believe that this location is haunted. All I’ve ever felt here is a sense of calmness, a welcoming atmosphere and somewhere that I can visit to clear my mind. I find it hugely surprising that with everything I’ve
said, with the sadness mixed with misery, the anger combined with hangings, that there wouldn’t be ‘something’ that resides here. I feel that whatever does frequent these grounds aren’t anything to be feared, but more something that should be experienced, and more importantly, shared.
James - Haunted Insight
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