Death borders upon our birth, and our cradle stands in the grave.
Discovering and examining old graves and burial grounds is actually a great way to learn about the lives of people in the past, but at the same time, it can be pretty creepy for obvious reasons. Some graves are mysterious because the identity of those within is unknown. Others, because of the legends surrounding them. And some, because the location is not quite known.
These 10 graves left everyone puzzled about their origins, their nature and what they signified.
1 – 2, 800-Year-Old Kiss Found in Hasanlu
The iconic pair of skeletons were unearthed in 1972 at the Teppe Hasanlu archaeological site, located in the Solduz Valley in the West Azerbaijan Province of Iran. The archeological site was discovered in 1972 in the Teppe Hasanlu in northwestern Iran, an ancient city which has been violently burned in the end of the ninth century B.C. The leading archaeologist, Robert Dyson wrote:
‘Lying in the bottom of the bin were two human skeletons, a male and a female. The male had one of its arms under the shoulder of the female, while the female was looking into the face of the male and reaching out with one hand to touch his lips. Both were young adults. Neither showed any evidence of injury; there were no obvious cuts or broken bones. There were no objects with the skeletons, but under the female’s head was a stone slab. The other contents of the bin consisted of broken pieces of plaster, charcoal, and small pieces of burned brick but nothing heavy enough to crush the bones”. (read more)
2 – Bizarre Inscription on John Renie’s Gravestone
At the eastern end of the churchyard, very near the church, is the gravestone of John Renie, his wife and two sons. Renie was a Welsh house painter who died in 1832 at the age of 33. The gravestone was Grade II listed on 8 October 2005. It comprises a rectangular carved 285-letter acrostic puzzle. From the larger H on the centre square the sentence “Here lies John Renie” may be read in any direction. It is claimed that the sentence may be read a total of 46,000 different ways. It is likely that Renie carved the stone himself. Writer and cleric Lionel Fanthorpe has suggested that his intention may have been to confuse the Devil, so ensuring Renie his passage to heaven. In fact, Renie’s remains lie elsewhere, as the stone was moved from its original position at a later date. Nevertheless, Renie’s gravestone is a listed building as is that of Charles Heath who is also buried in the graveyard.
3 – Young Warrior in mysterious Viking-era grave
The warrior cemetery of Bodzia, Poland composed exclusively of chamber graves, is unique in early medieval Europe.
Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man’s jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life.
5 – St. Augustine Donkey
Not all mysterious graves contain human remains. In St. Augustine, Florida, a local archaeologist was baffled by a unique and bizarre burial of a donkey. The animal was discovered under 120 centimeters (4 ft) of earth and dates to the second half of the 17th century. The animal has an indent on the top of its skull and was likely killed by a blow to the head. But what happened afterward is hard to explain.
All four of the animal’s limbs have been carefully disarticulated. No butchering marks appear on the bones. In fact, they’ve been removed so carefully that the animal almost certainly wasn’t used for food. After removal, the limbs were placed on top of the donkey and arranged to face north–south. Digging a bigger hole would’ve been quicker than removing the limbs with such precision, so convenience isn’t a likely explanation.
Carl Halbirt, who found the animal, said, “I don’t think we’ll ever know the complete story.” He’s looked for similar burials but couldn’t find any on record.
Donkeys were used in the area at that time as pack animals to carry coquina from a nearby quarry for use in building. While that explains why the beast was in the area, it offers no clues as to why someone would’ve gone to so much seemingly needless effort to dispose of the body.
6 – Weird grave of New Orleans’ most famous voodoo priestess
Marie Laveau was a famous and powerful voodoo priestess who lived in New Orleans in the 19th century. Renowned in life and revered in death, some say she continues to work her magic from beyond the grave.
Laveau died in 1881, but a tradition later developed that she could still grant favors from beyond the grave if believers either left offerings or scrawled three X’s on her tomb. This resulted in what was probably the most messy grave in the U.S., and caused no end of headaches for local preservationists, who had to constantly clean and repair the tomb only to have it trashed again.
They finally had enough, and on March 1, 2015, the cemetery was declared off-limits to all tourists except tour groups led by licensed tour guides.
7 – Mass grave mystery in Macedonia
The Roman colony of Scupi in northern Macedonia is the most thoroughly excavated ancient site in the country. Archaeologists were shocked when, in fall 2011, they uncovered a completely unknown mass grave on the periphery of the settlement’s largest necropolis. They identified at least 180 adult male skeletons that had been tossed into a pit a foot and a half deep. Many had been decapitated and most had their arms bound behind their backs. Some of the bones show the marks of extreme violence such as cutting and breakage. “It was a terrible sight, like a modern massacre. Why the men were killed remains a mystery; possibly mass military execution is the likely scenario.
8 – Mysterious tomb of Betty Stiven
Tobago is the smaller island of the twin republic of Trinidad & Tobago, and not without its own unique wonders and secrets. One of the old mysteries of Plymouth is the tomb of Betty Stiven, who died in the 18th century. On her tomb is inscribed the strange epitaph:
Beneath these walls are deposited the body of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death, which happened upon the 25th November 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.
Locals have many theories about what transpired between the reputed husband and wife, most of which involve the clever concealment of an inter-racial romance between a white slave-master and black female slave which would have been taboo at the time.
The stories, though, are a bit too big to believe: that Betty gave birth to four children while unconscious, whose existence was then concealed from her. Also, the story relies on the idea that once a man takes a woman’s virginity, he becomes her husband, even without a ceremony. Another, contradictory story claims Betty was a wanton woman who fell in love with a man and got him drunk enough to marry her without his consent, but proceeded to indulge his every whim. After getting pregnant, she got sick and gave birth in an unconscious state.
While none of these theories have ever been validated, there continues to be much hypothesizing.
9 – Hooded grave cemetery
Tales of vampires, witches, angels and demons have been around for centuries. Especially in Pennsylvania where the forests are dark and plentiful. One this states most legendary tales of the super ordinary comes from an 1800’s graveyard located just outside of Catawissa. Some old records call it the Mount Zion Cemetery, others refer to it as the Methodist Cemetery, but most people who know of it call it the Hooded Grave Cemetery.
If you get the chance to visit, the cages atop of two graves will immediately steal your attention. One is the resting place of Sarah Ann (Thomas) Boone who died June 18,1852 (age 22 yrs). The other is that of her sister in law, Asenath (Campbell) Thomas who died June 26, 1852 (age 20). According to research there was also a 3rd cage over the grave of Sarah’s cousin Rebecca (Thomas) Clayton who died May 12,1852 (age 25).
One of the local legends says that when vampires were unable to kill Sarahs mother (a witch), they preyed upon other family members in hopes to force them out of the area. When bites were discovered on the women, people went into a frenzy.
Villagers feared the women would rise and attack more citizens. In order to keep them or their souls from escaping, wrought – iron cages were constructed and placed over the top of the graves. After Anns death in 1856 she was buried in the same cemetery. Etched on her grave are two broomsticks to symbolize the craft.
10 – Mystery stone of Knights Templar
A mysterious carved stone has been uncovered alongside a 12th-century church associated with the Knights Templar. The stone has been dated to the 12th century. What appears to be the carved top of a sarcophagus was unearthed when builders were excavating and reinforcing a wall alongside the old ruined church in Temple, Midlothian. But the inscriptions, which include symbols similar to those found in Viking monuments, in medieval graves and in West Highland Celtic carvings, have baffled archaeologists.
Village legend tells of long-lost buried treasure: the village of Temple in Midlothian takes its name from the Knights Templar, who once had their Scottish Preceptory – their headquarters – there. The ruined chapel, which nestles in the valley at the foot of the village, is all that remains of what was once an abbey founded by the Templars on lands gifted by David I of Scotland in 1127. Founded during the Crusades, the Templars was a religious order of knights whose mission was to protect Christians in the Holy Land. Some say they invented international banking, with a system of credit letters used to pass funds to people fighting in the Crusades. The Templars certainly grew rich and powerful. According to some accounts they were the holders of treasures from Jerusalem. But the organisation came under suspicion from the royalty of Europe and the Catholic Church. Templars were hunted down and burned at the stake. Legend has it some of those fleeing persecution hid in this Midlothian village – bringing their treasure with them. According to local legend some of this treasure still lies buried in Temple: “Twixt the oak and the elm tree/You will find buried the millions free.”