The World's Most Haunted Cemeteries

It would be strange if tales of ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural events didn't attach themselves to cemeteries. Tales of the paranormal are often connected to our hopes and fears about death, and what is more death-related than a graveyard full of hundreds, if not thousands, of burials?

Most cemeteries are quiet. They can be lovely, park-like spaces, full of history, beautiful memorial art, and contemplative space. Assuming you're behaving respectfully and visiting during the daytime, you generally would have no problem with burial grounds. But that's not always so. Some cemeteries are full of troubled history, like problematic occupants and nearby atrocities. Others are plagued by urban legends which could put your very soul in danger. If nothing else, fellow thrill-seekers and perturbed property owners can make for a rough visit.

Even if none of those things are true, or only-half true, then many of us can't help but be spooked, anyway. Those most skeptical among us can still be scared by weathered tombstones, odd shadows, and the thought of what all those lives and remains might mean when they're gathered together in one place. Add all of that up, and you can get what some call the most haunted cemeteries in the world.

Greyfriars Kirkyard menaces Scotland

Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, was established in the early 1560s, says Edinburgh World Heritage, around Greyfriars Kirk, a parish church. Since then, it's earned a reputation as one of the most haunted spots in all of Europe. What earned that reputation? One popular theory focuses on the Covenanters' Prison, described by the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association as a field just south of Greyfriars. It was used to hold hundreds of prisoners from the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679. Perhaps their rage and despair infected the adjoining graveyard with bad energy.

One of the most haunted spots, according to the legends, is the tomb of George Mackenzie, now understood to be one of the great villains of Scottish history. According to Atlas Obscura, Mackenzie was a lawyer and official who became notorious for prosecuting the Covenanters, religious and political dissenters. He allowed guards to viciously beat prisoners and seemed to delight in their eventual death sentences. After his own death, Mackenzie was entombed in an elaborate mausoleum, says Ghosts of Edinburgh

His final resting place isn't so restful, however, as it has been routinely vandalized over the centuries. In 1998, a homeless man attempted to sleep inside and fell into an inner chamber. Though horrified, the man escaped with only a few scratches. Some maintain that Mackenzie's spirit was unleashed after this event. People standing nearby report being pushed, scratched, bitten, bruised, and even knocked unconscious by an evil force.

Chicago's Resurrection Cemetery can't contain its dead

Not far from Chicago's Midway International Airport sits Resurrection Catholic Cemetery. According to the Chicago Tribune, it's the largest cemetery in the suburb of Justice, Illinois. It opened in 1904 and can lay claim to almost 190,000 burials. If you believe the tales, it's also home to an infamous spirit.

One version of the story, as retold by the Chicago Reader, involves the legend of Vince, a man from Chicago's south side. Out one evening, he met a pretty blonde woman in a local ballroom and spent the evening dancing with her. She called herself Mary. Vince offered to give her a ride home, but when they passed Resurrection Cemetery, she told him to stop. She got out, walked to the gates of the graveyard, and promptly vanished. When he went to her address the next day, a woman told him that Mary had died years ago in a car accident. If he really wanted to visit her, she said, he could always go to her grave at Resurrection Cemetery.

Resurrection Mary, as she's come to be known, has become a Chicago legend. As related by The Lineup, people variously report picking her up and watching her disappear inside the car, nearly hitting a woman near the cemetery and finding nothing, or simply watching her phantom stroll along Archer Avenue just outside the burial grounds.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is dominated by the spirit of Marie Laveau

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans is the oldest graveyard in a city rich with dramatic history. It opened in 1789, says Atlas Obscura, and now holds hundreds of bodies, many in striking aboveground tombs.

The most famous resident of St. Louis No. 1 is Marie Laveau, the powerful voodoo practitioner who made her mark on the city in the 19th century. Her tomb, says Haunted Cemeteries, is marked by occult images left by visitors, the most popular being a series of three X's. Don't do that yourself if you visit, as it's damaging to the historic structure. Besides, you might upset the voodoo queen. Laveau may indeed still be around. After her 1881 death, Laveau's followers swore that they saw her strolling through New Orleans. She might still be seen among the monuments of St. Louis No. 1, storming out of her own tomb and frightening visitors, reports Legends of America.

She isn't alone, if the stories are to be believed. According to Haunted New Orleans, the graveyard is haunted by a lady in white. Taxi drivers reportedly avoid the cemetery after a legend said that one of them picked up a girl in a wedding dress. When he went to the address she gave him, someone told the driver that the girl sitting in his backseat had died years ago. The driver turned back to see that she had already disappeared.

Cheesman Park still holds Denver's haunted secrets

Denver's lovely Cheesman Park was once a cemetery, says the Denver Library. It first opened in 1858, when Denver was little more than a collection of dusty buildings. By 1893, the city had become the state capital of Colorado, and the burial ground held an estimated 5,000 graves. Also by then, city leaders had soured on the idea of having a large graveyard in the middle of their growing city. Wouldn't a park be much nicer?

Thus, the City of Denver began the arduous task of moving the thousands of burials to other cemeteries throughout the city. It hired undertaker E.P. McGovern to oversee the project, but McGovern turned out to be a crook. According to The Haunted Heart of Denver, McGovern was paid per burial. So, he split body parts into different coffins in an attempt to earn more commission. He was also criminally sloppy, leaving human remains and burial ephemera strewn about the site. The city fired him but never bothered to hire a replacement. Instead, workers quietly pulled the headstones and went ahead with construction. Today, there are as many as 3,000 bodies still buried at Cheesman.

Many swear that the park is full of ghosts. Denver's KUSA reports that visitors claim to encounter spirits both in the park and surrounding homes. A writer staying in a nearby mansion was so spooked that their experience inspired the 1980 ghost film, The Changeling.

Boothill Graveyard is just one part of a deeply haunted town

Tombstone, Arizona, site of the infamous 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral and host to Wild West personalities like Wyatt Earp, is now said to be one of the most haunted spots in the American West. If the whole town is reportedly haunted, then what must the graveyard be like?

That burial ground would be Boothill Graveyard. According to Haunted Cemeteries, Boothill racked up over 200 burials between 1878 and 1884. These include the victims of the O.K. Corral shootout, including Billy Clanton as well as Tom and Frank McLaury. Visitors to the graveyard, which closed in 1886, say the spot is haunted by unexplained sounds and eerie lights. A few report seeing the specter of Clanton emerging from his own grave or strolling along the road leading into town.

Some of the spirits might have been stirred up by a restoration effort that took place during the 1930s, says Haunted Tombstone. Looters took headstones, becoming so bold that the town hired a caretaker. Modern visitors still say they have been subject to odd smells, like cigarette smoke when no one nearby has lit up. Others swear they've seen the figure of "China Mary," an immigrant who, according to True West Magazine, ran a general store and was buried in Boothill Cemetery in 1906. She supposedly appears wandering among the graves of Boothill.

Highgate Cemetery might be full of ghosts and vampires

It would be strange indeed if a burial place as old as London's Highgate Cemetery didn't have the odd ghost story or two. Opened in 1839, reports Atlas Obscura, it's infamously atmospheric. Oh, and it could have a vampire infestation.

It's odd, considering the many thousands of graves in Highgate, that the cemetery would become best known for hosting a possible vampire. Then again, the story, as related by Vice, is bursting at the seams with high gothic drama and ghoulish hijinks.

It began in 1967, when two teenage girls claimed to see dead folks walking around inside the cemetery. In 1970, things got gorier when numerous animals were found in the area, drained of blood. In February of that year, a local named David Farrant wrote to the newspaper Hampstead & Highgate Express, saying he'd seen a supernatural figure there. Sean Manchester, another local, cemented the legend by saying that figure was nothing less than a vampire.

It was the beginning of a long rivalry between the two men. Both staged rituals and stalked the graveyard with stakes, says the journal Folklore. Farrant was even arrested for trespassing in a nearby churchyard. It all supposedly ended in 1973, when Manchester said he vanquished the vampire.

The Huguenot Cemetery speaks to Florida's haunted history

It's difficult to imagine ghosts in some places. A cold graveyard, full of moss-covered headstones and stone mausoleums is one thing. But Florida? Standing just outside St. Augustine's Huguenot Cemetery, in the subtropical heat, it's hard to believe. How could a graveyard in such a warm, sunny place be so haunted? Try coming back at night.

Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States, says Britannica. The city's Huguenot Cemetery, a Protestant burial ground, may hold some of that 455 years of history in haunted form. According to Haunted St. Augustine and St. Johns County, it was founded in 1821, when a yellow fever epidemic was ravaging the city. Some report seeing yellow fever victims lurking around the graves. Only three headstones have an 1821 date, but it's possible that early wooden grave markers rotted away in the intensely humid Florida climate.

One favorite tale centers on Judge John Stickney. The judge died in 1882, says Old City Ghosts, and was buried in the Huguenot Cemetery. His family later wanted Stickney's remains moved to Washington, D.C., where his children lived. During the exhumation, thieves supposedly stole the judge's gold teeth. Now, Stickney is said to haunt the area, still looking for his looted parts.

The Paris Catacombs are full of bones and spirits

Eighteenth-century Paris had a real problem. The city, which had been around since 52 BCE, says History, was overflowing with graves. Over the centuries, many thousands of people had died and been buried within Paris. Now, their bones were everywhere, emerging ghoulishly from packed graveyards and causing illness and contamination citywide.

City leaders soon realized that the solution was right in front of them, says Les Catacombes de Paris. For centuries, people had been quarrying rock from beneath the city. Most mining operations had been abandoned after several building collapses, but miles of empty underground tunnels remained. Moving under cover of night to avoid public censure, workers took remains from graves and mausoleums throughout the city and stacked them beneath the Parisians' feet. After people stopped moving the bones in 1860, says Smithsonian Magazine, visitors were allowed to tour the spooky underground. In some of the public spaces, bones had been arranged in patterns and images, making for a striking tourist story to share with the folks back home. 

Some wonder if the people of Paris past still linger. According to World's Most Haunted Places, the Catacombs Museum, where many visitors can access a small portion of the network, is haunted by ghostly voices. Other tourists just can't shake the feeling that there's an eerie presence watching them down there.

Bachelor's Grove haunts Chicago

Once well-maintained, this Chicago-area burial ground was abandoned by the 1950s, says Atlas Obscura. While it grew a little wild, some whispered that the graveyard may play host to a bevy of urban legends and ghost stories. Bachelor's Grove has since been cleaned up, but the scary stories remain.

The cemetery pond is one of the central locations for eerie tales. According to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery and Other Haunted Places, two park rangers were subject to an especially odd scare in the 1970s. In the story, they saw the ghostly figure of a horse pulling itself out of the pond. That's especially odd, since other legends claim that the pond was really a dumping ground for gang victims from the Prohibition era.

Another tale says a two-headed monster stalks the grounds, says Haunted Bachelor's Grove. The figure is supposedly a human who was born deformed and hidden in the woods out of shame. Even though their physical form is long gone, every once in a while, you may just get a glimpse of a two-headed phantom.

Stull Cemetery is a devilish spot in Kansas

Where other graveyards might have a complement of ethereal specters and eerie noises, Stull Cemetery near Lawrence, Kansas, has a far more devilish reputation. Local legends claim that the place isn't merely a quiet resting place but is, in fact, a portal to Hell.

The confirmed history of Stull, Kansas, reveals that the place was once small but prosperous, says Haunted Lawrence. As the 20th century rolled on, however, the place slid into gentle obscurity. The devilish legends about the cemetery didn't really begin to pop up until the 1960s. That's when people claimed that the grave of Bettie and Frankie Thomas was damaged by a tree because the pair were evil witches. The rather slanderous legend morphed into tales about devil worshippers.

Other legends, as reported by American Hauntings, include a wild tale that claims a half-human child was born to a woman who had congress with Satan. The infant only lived a few days, but legend says that his tiny ghost still walks through the cemetery. Others say that devil worshippers gather there, that a secret stairway leads directly to the underworld, and that even the pope redirected his plane so he wouldn't have to fly over such evil ground.

Even if there is some grain of truth, local residents have grown sick of vandals and looky-loos, says Kansas' KCTV News. People who trespass on nearby private property may have to worry about more tangible dangers than ghosts or demons.

Salem's Old Burying Point is full of haunted history

The Old Burying Point in Salem, Massachusetts, has seen some of the city's dramatic history, including the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 to 1693. While none of the direct victims of the trials are buried there, says the Salem Witch Museum, there are some ominous notables laid to rest in the grounds, like trial judge John Hathorne, who's said to wander near his own grave.

With graves dating back to 1632, says Ghosts of Salem, there are many haunted stories to examine. One stomach-turning legend says that the basement of nearby Murphy's Restaurant is plagued by spirits of the dead. It may have been touched off when a casket supposedly broke through the basement wall and fell into the restaurant.

Like many other graveyards, Old Burying Point may host a Lady in White. The unidentified woman is said to appear as a ghostly figure in photographs, while some paranormal investigators maintain that the orbs in their pictures aren't dust but the Lady herself. Some speculate that she's Mary Corey, the second wife of Giles Corey, says Ghosts of Salem. Giles was infamously pressed to death in 1692 after refusing to testify during the Salem Witch Trials.

While those killed during the trials were unceremoniously dumped just outside the cemetery, says Salem Ghosts, their spirits might still be around. Visitors to the Old Burying Point report seeing ghostly figures they've identified as the accused witches.

Union Cemetery has preoccupied famous ghost hunters

The Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut, may look like any other old New England burial ground. Yet, as some investigators claim, it may be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States.

Many ghostly stories of Union Cemetery focus on the White Lady. According to NBC Connecticut, she's said to roam the graveyard and its adjoining roads at night. One man, Rod Vecsey, says that he saw her while driving around at roughly 1:00 AM. Not only did he see the White Lady standing by the side of the road, but a man appeared in his passenger seat. Then, the road seemed to turn red, until Vecsey reached a church at the bottom of a hill. In another story related by Haunted Connecticut, an unnamed driver also witnessed a reddish glow come over the road. He saw the White Lady standing in the road and hit her. Though he felt the impact and later saw a dent in his truck, there was no trace of the woman.

Tales of the haunted Union Cemetery became so widespread that famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren staked out the burial ground. The married pair, who drew interest and skepticism for their work with other legendary scares like Annabelle the doll, were drawn to the legends surrounding the cemetery. Their book, Graveyard, collects other frightening stories, like the ominous "dark man" seen by the cemetery sexton.