Old Burying Ground


The difference between a cemetery and a burial ground is that a cemetery is consecrated land, most often unique to one religion. A burial ground is kind of a place to inter anyone rich enough to be buried. The alternatives in England weren’t always pretty.

The Burial Ground (1635) houses many of the early Harvard presidents. Henry Dunster lies (in theory) in this ground. Scholars aren’t 100% certain which tomb is his, though very good guessing led to a plaque being placed on his (or someone’s) grave in 2011. He is beside several other Harvard Presidents, ministers of the First Church, and sometimes, as in the case of Urian Oakes, both at once.

Many of the wealthy Cambridge families have whole crypts in this ground. A soldier wounded at Bunker Hill was nursed back to health in the Oliver mansion, but as medicine was not quite as leech-free in those days, he eventually died from his wounds and is buried here. He is not far from John Hicks’ grave, shared by John with friends also killed on Battle Road. Nineteen Revolutionary soldiers in all reside in the Burial Ground.

The Burial Ground has been in rough shape over the years, and is only in its present state with the help of the Cambridge Historical Commission. Please help them keep it from crumbling by viewing the Burial Ground from paths, or very gingerly. In 23 years, this Burial Ground will turn 400!