Buried under a boulder: the grave of Meg Shelton, the Woodplumpton Witch

In the old Lancashire village of Woodplumpton near Preston, England, is the church of St. Annes, originally 11th Century but rebuilt in 1639 and 1900, with its structure that stands to this day. Interestingly, among the variety of gravestones in its burial ground, lies the very distinctive sight of a large boulder partially embedded in the ground. In front of it, a small sign reads: “The Witch’s Grave. Beneath this stone lies the remains of Meg Shelton alleged witch of Woodplumpton, buried in 1705.” When one mentions Lancashire and witches…

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Matthew Hassal, Isle of Man Vampire

The Isle of Man is an ancient land steeped in old superstition, including dark wraiths, fairies and even vampires. Located on the outskirts of Castletown is Malew Churchyard, a regular graveyard with gravestones dating back centuries, but with also a curious gravesite. The burial plot is cornered by four iron stakes driven deep into the ground, draped with heavy chains, while a huge slate slab covers the grave. But It remains a mystery as to exactly why the chains were placed here back in the 1850s, and they still exist…

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Mittie Manning’s Tomb: one of Mississippi’s most unique tombs

Holly Springs is a small town that’s big on history, and boasts several homes from the past, as well as the historic Hill Crest Cemetery. Deemed literally “one of the finest historic cemeteries in north Mississippi”, it was established in 1845, but some graves date back to 1838, suggesting that the grounds served as a burial ground prior to its official creation. One of the most popular graves in the cemetery is that of Mittie Manning, the daughter of Van and Mary Manning. The Mannings were a regular family living…

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Piscatawaytown Burial Ground and the witch of Edison

New Jersey is steeped in urban legends and stories of the supernatural. There everybody has heard of the Jersey Devil, a creature with the head of a goat, the body of a deer, giant horns and wings. It is said that he was the 13th child of Mother Leeds back in 1735 and was born a demon through a curse. There have been a number of sightings of the Devil since then, one of them even being reported by the brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte. But there is a legend…

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Muschats’s Cairn: a stack of stones that honors a murdered 18th-century woman.

For the major part of tourists, this monument looks like a random pile of rocks. And, in a way, that is indeed what it is. It’s a cairn, basically a landmark constructed with irregular stones, and here there is no signage or posting to provide historical context. Instead, one has to dig deeper to realize these stones are the marker of a macabre and unscrupulous story. It was 17 October 1720 when a surgeon named Nichol Muschat lured his wife Ailie into Holyrood Park and killed her. His previous attempts…

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The grave of ‘The Great Lafayette’ and his beloved dog in Edinburgh’s Piershill Cemetery

We are in Piershill Cemetery, located on Portobello Road between Edinburgh, Scotland, and Portobello Beach. The graveyard is known for its Jewish burial grounds, located to the south, and its pet cemetery, located to the right of the entrance, but also for the grave of Sigmund Neuberger, a popular illusionist and magician better know as The Great Lafayette. The unbelievable and tragic story of how one of the world’s most renowned illusionists and his pampered dog came to buried together in Piershill Cemetery is almost too incredible to be true.…

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Grave of Midnight Mary: the final resting place of a New Haven urban legend

In life, she was known by the name Mary E. Hart, but today most people in New Haven, Connecticut, now know her simply as Midnight Mary. She was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, and her tombstone can be found at the back of the cemetery, on the path that parallels the iron wrought fence that separates the graveyard from Winthrop Avenue. As story goes, at 48 years old, Mary dropped to the floor one day at midnight. Believing her dead, her family had her buried at Evergreen Cemetery. However, one night…

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Theodore “Fodor” Glava: the vampire of Lafayette

For generations, vampires have been a fascinating part of folklore and literature, introducing a collection of iconic characters described as corpses supposed, in European folklore, to leave their graves at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long pointed canine teeth. Perhaps it’s not surprising that a grave with “born in Transylvania” etched on the stone would invite vampire comparisons, but the people of Lafayette, Colorado, have really gone all-out. Local legends say that a tree growing over the grave sprung from the stake…

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Charlotte M. Sitton: the “The Crying Woman” of Adelaida Cemetery, California

Located west of Paso Robles, California, Adelaida is now over-ridden with wineries, but still rich in history and the strange. Originally, a mixture of mercury mines, farms, and ranches, it was first settled in 1859 by James Lynch, a sheep rancher. Pioneers flocked to the area due a perfect weather that seemed to make everything grow, and the population eventually reached a size of seven hundred scattered throughout the area amongst hills and valleys. The old trail to Mission San Miguel was opened in 1797 and used predominantly in the…

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Sivas and the mysterious grave in the road

One of the last thing you expect to see in the middle of a regular urban paved street is a grave complete with a large tombstone. But that’s exactly what you’ll see when driving through Sivas, in central Turkey. Yeni Mahalle Hamzaoğlu is one of the several streets that traverse the relatively new Şarkışla district but, at one point, motorists need to make sure that they don’t drive straight into a grave located right in the road. It’s been there for several years now, but only recently gained national attention,…

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Medb’s Cairn: the grave of a mythological Irish queen?

Perched atop the monolithic Irish hill Knocknarea west of Sligo town, lies Medb’s Cairn, in Irish Miosgán Médhbh, a 5,000 year old burial mound, even though no one is quite sure whose it is. It is about 55 metres wide and 10 metres high, making it the largest cairn in Ireland outside the Brú na Bóinne complex in Meath. It is believed to date to around 3000 BCE, and it is a protected National Monument. In recent years, archaeologists have warned that the ancient cairn is being eroded by hikers…

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Grave of W. B. Yeats at St. Columba’s Church, Drumcliffe, Ireland

In the churchyard of St. Columba’s Church, a few miles north of Sligo town, Ireland, William Butler Yeats lies under a remarkably plain gravestone bearing his name, birth and death dates, as well as the last three lines of one of his poems: “cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by.” He was one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets, and explained the plans for his final resting place the best way he knew how, through poetry. The final verse of “Under Ben Bulben” details the way he…

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Nicolas Cage’s Pyramid Tomb in New Orleans’ oldest cemetery~

Actor Nicolas Cage has long been known for his eccentric behavior both in front of the camera and in the real world. Born Nicolas Kim Coppola and nephew of The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, he adopted his stage name to avoid nepotism on the job and claims to have gotten inspiration from Marvel superhero, Luke Cage. As interesting as his acting career is, his personal life is equally enigmatic: his celebrity success has allowed him to buy everything, including private islands, dinosaur fossils, English and German castles, shrunken heads,…

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Buried in a Barrel: the story of Captain Sluman Gray~

We’ve probably heard of metaphorically being “over a barrel”, but what about literally being in one? This is the curious sea-farin’ tale of Captain Sluman Gray of Lebanon, in Connecticut (and what happened to him after his demise and burial), even though the gulf between the story and the truth can be as wide as the ocean itself. Well, for a long time, the story regarding Capt. Gray went something like this: an experienced whaling captain, Gray—with his wife Sarah and their children in tow—put out aboard the James Maury…

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Malte Stierngranat: the man who did what he wanted

Locals in Sweden have a nickname for the eccentric nobleman who built himself a pyramid tomb in the middle of the south highlands: “Mannen som gjorde vad som föll honom in”. Literally: “The man who did what he wanted.” The curious character certainly carried around a lot of names. His name was Georg Malte Gustav August Liewen Stierngranat, and was born in 1871 on an estate called Nobynäs, outside of the small city of Aneby. Because he was the oldest son, he was expected to stick around the manor house…

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The curious London’s time-traveling tomb

Swinging open the gate of Brompton Cemetery is a bit like swinging open a little bit of London history. Here rests famous suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, and Beatrix Potter strolled its 39 acres, plucking names from tombstones to use in her work, including deceased Peter Rabbett and Mr. Nutkins. Moreover, here more than 35,000 monuments in all are present, rich and poor, known and unknown. In the middle of the grounds and shrouded by trees stands a fascinating mausoleum in Egyptian style made from granite, with a heavy bronze door secured…

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Jewett City Vampires: the graves of a Connecticut family thought to be plagued by a vampire ~

When people think of early New England, one of the many things that come to mind are the infamous witch trials of the late 17th century, of which Connecticut was quite an active participant with lot of people tried as witches and some of them even executed. During that dark time in state’s history the belief in and fear of supernatural creatures was quite strong: not only were witches a source of concern, so was the Devil himself. This general sense of apprehension in regard to the supernatural was so…

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Nadežda Nada Tomić: the story of a brave young medical doctor who lost her life trying to save a drowning child at Lake Geneva

We are at the secluded part of the New Cemetery in Belgrade, under a century old trees. Here there is one of the most striking and, according to some art historians, most valuable piece of artwork at the cemetery: a high-relief depicting Our Savior, embracing a sleeping young girl, firmly holding an infant who is grasping tightly onto her. The inscription on the white headstone beneath the relief reads: Into Death for Another – Nada 1896-1922. The high relief is located at the Tomić-Tomanić family crypt and it is devoted…

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Malaga’s English Cemetery and its last guardian

The English Cemetery (also know as the St. George’s Cemetery) is the oldest Protestant cemetery in Spain. It was established 1831 for the British merchants who lived in the city of Málaga and, before that, they were buried on the sea shore at night, since they were mainly Protestants and could not be buried in the Catholic consecrated ground.The reason?In 1787, King Carlos III created a statute that forbade the interment of any non-Roman Catholic during daylight hours and in any of the existing cemeteries in Spain. During those years,…

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Maria Higgins, the woman who was buried twice

Glasnevin Cemetery, in Irish Reilig Ghlas Naíon, is a large cemetery in Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland which opened in 1832. It has its famous occupants, including Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins, author Christy Brown and Dubliners star Luke Kelly. But it is also the final resting place for many ordinary citizens who led interesting lives and deaths. This is the case of Maria Higgins, a completely ordinary person with a completely normal life. Except for the fact that she managed to die twice. According to her husband, Charles Higgins, Maria…

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The grave of Mary Nasson, the Witch of York ~

Like all states, also Maine has it’s weird and paranormal events throughout history. When the Spaniards came into the Southwest had the very first Thanksgiving (recorded), some 35 years or more before the Pilgrims’ landed on Plymouth rock. This is a historical fact that all of Far West Texas and New Mexico residents hold in highest esteem. Be that as it may be, the English Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Actually, the Pilgrim’s never even referred to the rock and it was not mentioned until about 1715 and…

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Manila Cemetery: known as “Beverly Hills of the Dead” is full of luxurious final resting places

Not even death put an end to the luxurious lifestyles of some of Manila’s wealthy Chinese residents. Here, in the capital of Philippines, the dead have better houses than the living ones: the Chinese Cemetery of Manila is a real little neighborhood, with many tombs reaching the size of real mansions, including all their modern amenities. The mausoleums lining either side of two-way streets within the cemetery are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that many living people can only dream of: they have fully-functioning kitchens and bathrooms with luxury fittings, and…

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Beechworth Cemetery and Chinese burning towers

The discovery of gold at Ballarat in 1851 sparked Victoria’s famous gold rush of the 1850s. This led to the probably most significant event in the evolution of the state of Victoria, Australia: the mass migration of people from across the globe to the region hoping to become rich. It’s believed that at the peak of the gold rush, 6,000 miners arrived in the region each week, including many Chinese nationals who converged on Beechworth seeking fortune around the late 1850s. As the population in Beechworth (then surveyed as Mayday…

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Boot Hill Cemetery: “They died with their boots on.”

Boot Hill cemetery is located in downtown Tilden, Texas. It is one of the only two authentic cemeteries of its kind in the southwest and was named Boothill because so many of those who were interred there died violently, literally “with their boots on.” Tilden was founded in 1858, and was first known as Frio Rio. It was one of the first two settlements in McMullen County, and it had eight to ten crude dwellings that housed about thirty people. Soon afterward the townspeople built a road connecting their settlement…

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Cementerio del Andinista: a cemetery dedicated to the mountaineers who perished climbing Mount Aconcagua

At 6,962 metres (22,840ft), Mt. Aconcagua is the tallest peak in the Americas and, nestled high in the Andes near the border of Argentina and Chile, it’s the highest mountain anywhere outside of Asia. To mountaineers, it’s not a very technical trek, as it doesn’t require any specialized equipment to reach the summit, even though the hike can be deceptively dangerous for those who are unprepared. Not by chance, Aconcagua is believed to have the highest death rate of any mountain in South America, around three a year, which has…

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The oldest comic in the world? In a tomb in Jordan!

It was drawn 2,000 years ago and does not depict superheroes, cute little animals or thieves in a luxury car, but the workers of the ancient city of Capitolias, in the north of Jordan, one of the 10 Greek-Roman cities listed by Pliny the Elder as the Decapolis, a group of semi-autonomous Hellenistic cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire, between present-day Israel, Jordan and Syria. The painting, which is the oldest example of modern “comic”, with the phrases pronounced by the protagonists spelled out next to their…

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The tomb of Jules Verne: “Vers l’immortalité et l’éternelle Jeunesse”

The world-famous writer Jules Verne died of diabetes at the age of 77 on March 24, 1905, in Amiens, France, where he was buried in the Cimetière de la Madeleine. Two years after his death, a sculpture entitled “Vers l ‘Immortalité et l’ Eternelle Jeunesse” (Towards immortality and eternal youth) was named after him, positioned on top of his tomb. Designed and built by sculptor Albert Roze using the writer’s actual death mask, the statue shows the figure of Jules Verne breaking the tomb lid and gloriously emerging from his…

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Monumental Cemetery of Lecco – Italy

Inaugurated on August 6, 1882 and designed by the engineer Enrico Gattinoni, the Monumental Cemetery of Lecco represents a real open-air museum. It contains works in marble and bronze by well-known local and non-local artists, which date back also to the late nineteenth century, including Giulio Branca (1850 -1926) whose works vary between late-classicism models and other pictorial styles, Francesco Confalonieri (1850 – 1925 ) classicist and with the greatest number of works present, or Giannino Castiglioni (1884 – 1971) of which Lecco also houses the imposing monument to the…

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Reasons why you should visit the Camposanto of Pisa

Despite the Camposanto, a monumental cemetery, is just right next to one of the most recognized buildings in the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, it does not see nearly as many visitors. “Campo Santo” can be literally translated as “holy field”, because it is said to have been built around a shipload of sacred soil from Golgotha, brought back to Pisa from the Third Crusade by Ubaldo Lanfranchi, archbishop of Pisa in the 12th century. According to a popular belief, the bodies buried in that ground will rot…

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Centuries of history and miracles: the beautiful Laorca Cemetery

The Laorca cemetery is located in the Laorca district north of Lecco, region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy, and has developed around the caves and the ancient church of St John the Baptist (also called Chiesa ai Morti, “Church to the dead”) in Laorca. In 2011, together with Monumental Cemetery of Lecco, it was included in the “European Cemeteries Route” that is the European itinerary of monumental cemeteries. It is in fact inserted in a unique natural context, and it is a jewel of art and nature. The environment is…

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