Haunted Cemeteries and Damaged Crypts

Open, above-ground grave in Austin, TX
Open grave in Austin, TX (USA)

Unlike broken and discarded headstones, severely damaged above-ground graves and crypts may not be as useful for paranormal research. Not if you’re looking for ghosts, anyway.

It seems to be one extreme or the other.

  • Either the ghost shows up to complain whenever he (or she) realizes an audience is present… or the ghost has long abandoned the grave.
  • Either he’s crossed over, or he’s followed the body (or selected pieces of it) to wherever it’s stored, now.

(Until the photo gallery is restored at this site, the following thumbnail illustrations show the kinds of pictures I’ve featured.)


Broken gravestones


In my experience, many empty graves and open crypts attract something non-ghostly.

I know that something seems to frequent those sites, and it’s not human. Never was, unless it’s the ghost of a completely emotionless sociopath.

I avoid whatever-it-is. Too often, it’s malicious.

  • Ovilus responses are weird.
  • EMF can be even stranger.
  • I haven’t tried EVP at those locations.

It’s not a ghost, so I’m not interested.

You may feel differently. Investigate at your own risk.

Above all, do not enter an open crypt. That’s trespassing, and the air inside could make you ill, at the very least.

According to local lore, bodies in crypts in New Orleans (and probably other very hot climates) decay to dust within a year. So, those warm-climate crypts are probably less risky than those in more northern locations.

However, you still run the risk of inhaling dust from rat droppings and health-endangering bacteria and viruses.

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries – Outside Graves

The following photos are related to research techniques described in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

All of the following photos are from South Street cemetery in Portsmouth, NH (USA), and they’re within about 30 feet of the cemetery walls.

The “Where’s Waldo?” photos aren’t related to anyone actually named Waldo. The term references a children’s book, because it’s such a challenge to spot these kinds of headstones in wooded settings.

Note: Several years ago, after my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, was published, one of Mr. Mooney’s relatives contacted me. She planned to have the stone restored to the deceased’s grave.

(Until the photo gallery is restored at this site, the following thumbnail illustrations show the kinds of pictures I’ve featured.)

Graves outside cemetery walls

Third edition of my book.

Mr. Mooney’s hidden gravestone (lower row of photos) is in a directly in line with where the toe of my shoe points. Only the very tip of the stone (or perhaps a corner of it) is above the ground. It’s in the top 1/3 of the photo, and between two somewhat horizontal sticks.

For more book-related photos, see my Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries article.

To understand how these photos relate to ghost hunting, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

This edition is now out-of-print, but you can find it at many public libraries.

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries

Cemetery - Image by suga_shackGhost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries was Fiona Broome’s original book about finding and evaluating the best haunted cemeteries, and locating the most active areas in them.

People pass by haunted cemeteries every day and don’t notice them. This book helps ghost hunters of all levels discover great haunted sites near their homes, schools, and businesses.

The early editions of Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries are now out of print. However, many public libraries own copies of it. And, some booksellers may still have the book in stock.


Related articles

Related to Chapter 2

Related to Chapter 4

Related to Chapter 5

Free downloads



Haunted Cemeteries – Gravestones and Monuments

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries - 3rd edition

Haunted cemeteries can be ideal research sites for any ghost hunter. Whether you’re looking for a “good scare,” scientific evidence, or to help a lost soul “cross over,” many cemeteries are convenient, open to the public… and haunted.

Some of the following photos may inspire you to explore the oldest cemeteries and gravestones in your area.

Orb at "schoolhouse cemetery" in Nashua, NH Yes, that’s an unexplained orb in the tree at Schoolhouse Cemetery in Nashua, NH.

This photo was taken at Halloween. The night was still. There were no breezes, and I was careful not to stir up any dust.

(I was still under the illusion that many — perhaps most — orbs were explained as dust particles reflecting the light from my camera.)

misty gravestones at Hollis, NH At right, a group of gravestones at Pine Hill Cemetery (aka “Blood Cemetery”) in Hollis, NH, always seemed to photograph as if they were in a mist… even on a sunny day, like this one.

Purple streak of light at Gilson Road cemetery The photo at left shows an unexplained streak of purple light at Gilson Road Cemetery, in Nashua, NH.

At the time, we saw nothing like this light. The picture was a film photo, and the negative showed no splashes or processing problems that could explain this picture.

It’s still among my favorites.

stolen gravestone from Vale End, Wilton, NH

Of course, this kind of photography isn’t always about ghosts.

At right, this lovely figure of Mary Magdalene (so I was told) was stolen from a grave at Vale End Cemetery (Wilton, NH), a few months after I took this picture.

Abel Blood's gravestone



At left, Abel Blood’s gravestone was among New Hampshire’s most famous haunted sites.

At Halloween (and perhaps other times), the finger on the headstone was seen pointing downward.

Ordinarily, I’d doubt the tale. I’ve heard similar urban legends all over the U.S. and in other countries, too.

But, in this case, the person who told me about it had seen it himself. And, he was one of the most credible sources I’ve ever spoken with.

Since I posted this story online, the headstone has been stolen at least twice. It may be back at Pine Hill Cemetery (Hollis, NH) at the time you read this. People who take the stone… they don’t keep it for long.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to experience the wrath of Abel Blood — or any curse he might deliver — by antagonizing his ghost, or whatever caused the finger to turn on the headstone.

But, in general, I think ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries can be fascinating.

Just don’t take anything home from the cemetery.

Ghosts and Gravestones

Ghosts and gravestones often go hand-in-hand.  If you’re looking for ghosts, cemeteries are great places to start.

In my research, I’ve noticed that grave sites are often haunted, particularly unmarked and neglected graves.

However, gravestones can be haunted, even when the person in the grave seems not to haunt it.

I first noticed this at Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire (USA).  There, two gravestones seemed to hold residual energy though the grave itself has no apparent phenomena.

Check the gravestone and the grave

The first time I noticed this was when, walking past the Fisk stones near the gate to the cemetery, my EMF meter started beeping and flashing.  This continued for about 90 seconds with no explanation.

Then, the EMF activity stopped, also for no clear reason.

This was before the subdivision was built across the street from the cemetery.  There were a couple of phone lines at the street and a streetlight, but that’s all.

The stone was active.  When another team member checked the grave area, there were no EMF spikes.

Compass activity at the Robbins & Adams gravestones

When I’m at Gilson Road cemetery, the fastest way to see compass anomalies is to rest the compass on one of the flat top edges of the gravestones around the Robbins and Adams graves.

I place my compass on one stone and wait for about 30 seconds, watching the compass needle.  If it starts moving by itself, that usually signals the beginning of ghostly activity at the cemetery.

If nothing happens, I’ll move the compass to the next gravestone, and wait again.

I do this until I’ve cycled through all of the headstones in the front row at the Robbins/Adams plots.

If nothing happens, it may not be an active time at Gilson Road Cemetery.

Chicken or the egg?

People have asked whether the compass triggers the activity, or invites the spirits to manifest.

I have no idea.  It seems that way, but it’s difficult to be sure.

Like the Fisk graves, we’ve seen few anomalies at the actual Robbins and Adams graves… only at the gravestones.

And, in both cases, the EMF activity began after we’d been in the cemetery for awhile.  It wasn’t constant, and it seemed to need attention and encouragement from us.

Note: At Gilson Road Cemetery, this phenomena occurs most often in the late afternoon, near dusk.

Residual energy, ghosts and gravestones

There are a few reasons why gravestones might seem haunted when their respective graves have no activity.

It’s possible that the gravestones absorb the energy of the mourners who visited the graves for many years.  (I’ve seen flowers left at graves over 100 years old.  Some families remember their ancestors for many generations.)

I can think of a few other reasons why gravestones might retain residual energy, but this is all speculation.

The point is: I believe that some gravestones are haunted… but only by residual energy.  No one is haunting the associated grave.

This may explain some of the odd activity at Gilson Road Cemetery’s gravestones.

I’m not certain that the eerie green light above the Joseph Gilson headstone is simply residual energy.

If you’ve had similar encounters — or have alternate theories about ghosts and gravestones — I hope you’ll leave comments at the foot of this article.

Choosing the best cemeteries

Most ghost researchers will never visit Gilson Road Cemetery.  They don’t need to.  Most people can find a haunted cemetery near where they live.

Not all cemeteries are haunted.  Most graves do not seem to be haunted, either.

You need to know what to look for, when you’re ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries.

What makes a grave a good place to investigate?  These are the three biggest tips that a grave might be haunted:

  • Where the graves are located.
  • Whether or not they’re marked.
  • What’s on each gravestone (art and text).

Though I talk about this in extreme detail in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, here are some specific tips for your upcoming ghost hunts:

  • Look for graves, gravestones, or pieces of gravestones just outside the walls of the cemetery. They’re often the best “hot spots” that connect ghosts and gravestones.
  • Unmarked graves and neglected graves are worth investigating.  There’s often a connection between ghost and gravestones that are missing or broken.  (To find unmarked graves, look for coffin-shaped depressions in the grass.)
  • In American cemeteries, 18th and 19th century graves are often the most actively haunted.  So, look for death dates in the 1700s and 1800s.  (In British cemeteries, older is sometimes better.)
  • Artwork and inscriptions can help identify the most haunted graves.  In the 19th century (1800s), different symbols — flowers, hands, Bibles, etc. — can tell a story.  A downward-pointing finger (indicating a life cut short by the hand of God) is a good place to start.  (My book includes a chapter listing the most significant gravestone artwork to look for.)

In addition to the connections between ghosts and gravestones, you’ll often discover eerie energy around the holding crypt in (or near) many cemeteries.  This is usually a small building — or a large crypt built into a hillside — where bodies (usually in coffins)  were stored during the winter, when the ground was too frozen to dig graves.

Though these crypts are rarely in use today, the buildings remain… and often have consistently high EMF spikes (and some EVP) around them.

(Note: Do not open the door or go inside a holding crypt.  In addition to trespassing, these buildings can have very unhealthy air, bacteria, etc., in them.)

Ghosts and gravestones seem to go together.  If you’re looking for a reliable place to encounter ghosts, a haunted cemetery is an ideal place to start.

Photo credits

Skull & crossbones on cemetery gate – barbara delfino, Argentina

Caskets in storage – Samantha Villagran, Mexico