Monday, October 3, 2011

The Olde Burying Point

Salem has some wonderful, old cemeteries.  The most popular is the Charter Street Cemetery, or the Old Burying Point. 

The Old Burying Point has a few remarkable residents, including one Mayflower passenger, architect Samuel McIntire, and Justice John Hathorne (great grandfather to Nathaniel Hawthorne).  There are also some fantastic trees in the cemetery, and the stone carving is wonderful. 

Here are my three favorite points about the Charter Street Cemetery:
  1. It used to abut the harbor, which is why it's called the Old Burying Point.  The southern wall, adjacent to Derby Street, is the original sea wall. 
  2. One of the trees has been struck by lightening at least twice, and the person buried beneath that tree died by being struck by lightning (poor guy just couldn't get a break!).
  3. The graphic elements carved into the stones are wonderful. Count the angels, which look like winged skulls, as you wander through the stones.

Several tours will take you past the cemetery, interpreting it from afar, and at least two will take you into the cemetery to talk about the stones themselves.  For more information, check out Salem Historical Tours' "Cemetery 101: Grave Matters" and the Witch Walk

There is a plaque at the entrance to the cemetery that points out some of the more famous names, and providing the opportunity for a fun "scavenger hunt" experience without needing a tour.  The cemetery closes at dusk, and grave rubbings are not allowed.  Some of these stones are nearly 400 years old, so please tread gently.

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