I love going to cemeteries. They’re a great way to get some peace and quiet, connect with nature and take a metaphorical trip through history. But it’s hard to forget that just a few feet beneath you lie the remains of hundreds of…well, dead people. Perhaps it’s for this reason that cemeteries have a reputation for some strange goings-on. Here are four creepy haunted cemeteries around the world.
1. Howard Street Cemetery
The Salem Witch Trials represent a dark chapter of early American history. In 1692, 180 people in Salem, Massachusetts — most of them teenagers — were accused of witchcraft. 19 were hanged, and one was pressed to death: 81-year-old Giles Corey. As Corey died a slow, agonizing death, he was quoted as only saying “more weight” as heavier stones were gradually pressed on top of him. Before he died, he reportedly put a curse on every future sheriff in Salem. This curse is said to have been lifted in the 1990’s when the sheriff’s office changed locations.
After his death, Corey was buried in the field that would become Branch Street Cemetery in 1801, and be renamed Howard Street Cemetery in 1828. Today, his ghost is said to roam his permanent home, seeking revenge for his unjust execution. He’s thought to be an omen of disaster, supposedly making his rare appearances just before something bad happens. The earliest sighting I could find was right before The Great Salem Fire of 1914, which killed three people and injured 60 more.
2. the Paris catacombs
Probably the most well-known place on this list, the catacombs were consecrated as the Paris Municipal Ossuary in 1786. Today, they get over 500,000 visitors a year who come to see the millions of bodies decoratively arranged in bizarre yet morbidly fascinating ways.
With so many human remains posed so unusually, it’s no surprise that the catacombs have their share of ghostly legends. Stories range from EVP anomalies to orb and mist photography. Rumor has it that if you go down there after midnight, the walls will ‘speak’ to you, with disembodied voices that try to confuse you and get you lost in the maze of tunnels and labyrinths.
The only specific ghost story that seems to be associated with the catacombs is that of Philibert Aspairt, who got lost in the catacombs in 1793 and never made it out. His body was found a few years later, in 1804, and buried in the same spot. Philibert’s ghost is said to appear in the catacombs every year on November 3, the presumed anniversary of his untimely death.
(Side note: Apsairt also appears in the popular video game franchise Assassin’s Creed.)
There is one more creepy story associated with the catacombs, though it’s more urban legend than paranormal. People say there’s a video tape made by a man who got lost in the catacombs in the 1990’s. The deeper he goes, the more clear it becomes that he’s hopelessly — and perhaps fatally — lost.
To this day, it’s not clear who this man is, what happened to him or whether this footage is even real. But it definitely plays on the found footage craze of the time as well as the fear of getting lost in this vast underground maze and never being able to make your way out.
3. Glasgow Necropolis
I’ve talked before on this channel about the vampire of Highgate Cemetery. But Highgate is not the U.K.’s only graveyard with rumors of this sort.
Already a pretty decent tourist attraction in Scotland, the Glasgow Necropolis had its first burial in 1892. Over 50,000 people are buried there now — but do some among the undead also call this place home?
There are several rumors of typical hauntings here, including moving gravestones, a ghost boy and a woman in white. But the most famous legend is that of the Gorbals Vampire. This monstrous creature is said to be 7 feet tall with iron teeth and glowing red eyes.
As the story goes, two children the 1950’s were killed by the vampire. When their classmates heard about this, they descended in a mob upon the cemetery to rid the world of the vampire once and for all. Sources vary on exactly how many kids were there — anywhere from 50 to 400. But the hunt was ultimately broken up by either the police or a local teacher — again, depending on what source you look at. Another source said the group only dispersed when it started to rain.
The legend supposedly still crops up from time to time, but information on any specifics is sorely lacking online. So where did it come from? Some people have suggested stories of the Gorbals Vampire derived from an earlier legend about a witch who ate children in the 1800’s. Author David Castleton speculates that the legend rose from the impoverished Scottish district that gave the Gorbals Vampire its name. According to Castleton, both of these aforementioned creatures may have been “personifications of the hazards faced by the urban industrial poor.”
Today, most people chalk up the Gorbals Vampire legend to mass hysteria and mob mentality. But you never know…the vampire could still be lurking out there.
4. Union Cemetery
‘Women in white’ are a popular staple in discussions on the paranormal. I’ve talked about them numerous times on this channel. And Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut has yet another one of these legends to add to the list.
There are many different versions of the story, but most of them involve these basics: A man is driving alone at night on the road by the cemetery. Then he sees a woman wearing a long, flowing white gown. She’s standing in the middle of the road and he can’t stop in time, accidentally running her over. But when he gets out of the car to inspect the scene, there’s nothing there. Sometimes there’s even damage to his car — but the woman in white is nowhere to be found.
So who is this Woman in White? What could she have possibly gone through in life to cause her to want to stay behind and terrorize motorists in the afterlife? Nobody knows for sure, but there are a few theories. One is that the woman killed her husband. Another is that she was killed herself and her body was dumped near the cemetery. Others believe she died in childbirth and wanders the cemetery in the afterlife, looking for her baby. Some have suggested Harriet Seeley as the identity of the woman. Harriet gave birth to a baby boy who died on May 21, 1853, and Harriet followed just a week later. It’s not clear what caused their deaths, but it can’t be ruled out that Harriet is this woman in white.
The woman was reportedly captured on film by famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who lived in the area. They kept the evidence hidden from the public, saying it was because the video was so valuable. It’s no secret that the Warrens are controversial, with a simple Google search pulling up multiple results suggesting their entire body of work was fraudulent. And keeping their supposed ghost evidence under lock and key is a bit suspicious. But, as always, I will let you decide for yourself what you believe.
Other reported paranormal activity at the cemetery includes phantom whispers and voices, orb photos and a ghost named Red Eyes who peers at people from bushes. (That’s creepy!) This ghost is said to be that of Earle Kellogg, who was supposedly killed across the street from the cemetery in 1935. Nothing is readily available online to suggest the existence of Earl Kellog or a murder matching this description. Have the records just never been archived online…or is this story nothing more than a legend?
Have you ever experienced paranormal activity in a cemetery?