You are likely to see many different styles of fences and gates within the boundaries of any cemetery, particularly older burial grounds. The earliest functions of interior borders, particularly in rural areas where people were buried on family land on farms, were to keep cows and other animals from trampling over the graves. When the popularity of municipally owned cemeteries grew, fences and other borders became a way to mark a family’s burial plot as well as to keep people from tampering with flowers left or planted or to keep stray animals from wandering onto the grave. The type of border used depended on the financial resources of the family, the preferred style of the time period, or cemetery regulations. Brick, stone, wood, cast iron, and wrought iron were some of the materials used to divide sections of a graveyard from one another.
I regret that in my haste to photograph headstones that I have not taken more time to focus on the fences. They too are an integral part of cemetery history. To the left is an example of a short stone wall in South Boston’s Oak Ridge Cemetery.
The Holland-Conrad plot in Danville’s Green Hill Cemetery has a number of tree shaped markers and monuments and is surrounded by a low stone wall made to look like rocks and tree stumps. You can see the back of Louise Conrad’s marker, which is also the marker of her sister Grace.
|Post and chain fence, Grove Street Cemetery|
A post and chain fence surrounds the Price plot in Grove Street Cemetery.
|Hairpin and Picket|
|Hairpin and Picket in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Virginia|
|Bow and Picket, City Cem., Raleigh|
This gate in Raleigh’s City Cemetery is over 170 years old and narrowly escaped being destroyed by falling trees when tornadoes ripped through the city several years ago.