Haunted Cemeteries – Watch Out for Metal

It would be simple to say, “avoid metal when ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries.”

Unfortunately, the metal issue is more complex. Like many things we encounter when ghost hunting, there are two (or more) sides to this topic.

An abundance of metal in a haunted Columbus (TX) cemetery.
This Columbus (TX) cemetery is lovely, and has an abundance of metal in it.

Metal can retain magnetic charge. That can happen for a variety of reasons, and it’s so common, you must do a baseline check of anything metal near your equipment. You’ll also look for things that might contain metal, including reinforced cement walls and some gravestones that have been mounted with metal supports (inside) or broken headstones repaired with metal.

One of the biggest surprises was when we were investigating a Northfield (NH, USA) cemetery and kept seeing strange, fleeting EMF spikes near the stone wall surrounding the cemetery.

We finally found some barbed wire that a tree had grown around — the wire was barely noticeable at dusk, but we found it on a follow-up visit in daylight (photo below) — and parts of it seemed to retain magnetic energy.

So, look carefully for any metal that might need a baseline check.

However, as I said, there’s another side to this: Metal might attract ghostly energy, as well. We’re still trying to figure this out, but — for now — I recommend looking for metal when you’re in a haunted cemetery. As long as you do baseline checks, so the metal doesn’t skew your EMF readings, you might benefit from nearby metal.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • Metal — and I don’t mean just shiny, reflective metal — seems to increase the likelihood of orbs. As you can see in the photos, below, orbs show up around old, corroded and mossy metal.
  • We seem to record better EVP around metal in cemeteries. Is it acting like an antenna or an amplifier? I have no idea.
  • Then there’s what seems to happen to metal at some cemeteries. As some photos show, the metal — especially wrought iron — seems to get twisted. It’s unlikely anyone stood there and did that with their bare hands.

The twisting is difficult to explain. Initially, I figured the iron fences had been taken down at some point, and stacked, and some of the metal bent under the weight. Or, I thought a branch might have fallen and bent the metal on impact.

Those are reasonable explanations for some twisted cemetery fences, but that’s not enough to explain the volume of distortion I’ve seen in haunted cemeteries across the U.S. and Britain.

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

Every (larger) image includes the kind of metal you should watch for, so you don’t get false EMF (magnetic) readings.

Metal in cemeteries

Cemeteries are great places for paranormal research. Just watch out for metal and — of course — the ghosts.

Haunted Cemeteries and Damaged Crypts

Open, above-ground grave in Austin, TX
Open grave: Oakwood Cemetery, 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

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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.