Damaged Gravestones and Neglected Graves

When ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries, I always look for damaged gravestones. Sometimes the person named on them is indignant or grief-stricken over what’s happened. The grave was his or her final resting place, and it’s been neglected or even vandalized. There’s no excuse for that.

The following photos show the kinds of damage I’ve seen — and investigated, successfully — in haunted cemeteries.

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Damaged graves

For more information about cemetery research, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Every Gravestone Tells a Story

In my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, I list signs and symbols to look for on or near gravestones. The artwork and inscriptions can tell a story.

The following photos show a range of graves with interesting features.

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Unexpected materials in gravestones

Left to right: Wooden grave marker (TX), iron headstone (Henniker, NH), zine monument designed to look like granite (Nashua, NH).

Note: When I’m selecting graves to investigate, I’m always interested in expensive and ornate grave markers that have been neglected or even damaged. That’s usually an individual or family with wealth and power, and something changed so the grave hasn’t been maintained.

 

Haunted Cemeteries – Watch Out for Metal

It would be simple to say, “avoid metal when ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries.”

Unfortunately, the metal issue is more complex. Like many things we encounter when ghost hunting, there are two (or more) sides to this topic.

An abundance of metal in a haunted Columbus (TX) cemetery.
This Columbus (TX) cemetery is lovely, and has an abundance of metal in it.

Metal can retain magnetic charge. That can happen for a variety of reasons, and it’s so common, you must do a baseline check of anything metal near your equipment. You’ll also look for things that might contain metal, including reinforced cement walls and some gravestones that have been mounted with metal supports (inside) or broken headstones repaired with metal.

One of the biggest surprises was when we were investigating a Northfield (NH, USA) cemetery and kept seeing strange, fleeting EMF spikes near the stone wall surrounding the cemetery.

We finally found some barbed wire that a tree had grown around — the wire was barely noticeable at dusk, but we found it on a follow-up visit in daylight (photo below) — and parts of it seemed to retain magnetic energy.

So, look carefully for any metal that might need a baseline check.

However, as I said, there’s another side to this: Metal might attract ghostly energy, as well. We’re still trying to figure this out, but — for now — I recommend looking for metal when you’re in a haunted cemetery. As long as you do baseline checks, so the metal doesn’t skew your EMF readings, you might benefit from nearby metal.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • Metal — and I don’t mean just shiny, reflective metal — seems to increase the likelihood of orbs. As you can see in the photos, below, orbs show up around old, corroded and mossy metal.
  • We seem to record better EVP around metal in cemeteries. Is it acting like an antenna or an amplifier? I have no idea.
  • Then there’s what seems to happen to metal at some cemeteries. As some photos show, the metal — especially wrought iron — seems to get twisted. It’s unlikely anyone stood there and did that with their bare hands.

The twisting is difficult to explain. Initially, I figured the iron fences had been taken down at some point, and stacked, and some of the metal bent under the weight. Or, I thought a branch might have fallen and bent the metal on impact.

Those are reasonable explanations for some twisted cemetery fences, but that’s not enough to explain the volume of distortion I’ve seen in haunted cemeteries across the U.S. and Britain.

The following photos show some examples of metal to look for — and look out for — when you’re ghost hunting in cemeteries.

Click on any photo to see it larger.

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Until the gallery images are restored, here are some thumbnails of what you’ll see, later. Every (larger) image includes the kind of metal you should watch for, so you don’t get false EMF (magnetic) readings.

Metal in cemeteries

To learn more about getting the most from haunted cemetery investigations, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Haunted Cemeteries – Unmarked Graves

Unmarked graves can be among the most active areas in any cemetery.  However, they can be among the most difficult — and perhaps dangerous — to deal with.

Many unmarked graves reflect a sad story. Perhaps the family couldn’t afford a gravestone, or the marker was moved, lost, or stolen. In some cases, the graves contain multiple bodies, especially from times of war, or rampant and contagious disease when the bodies had to be put to rest quickly.

Others graves are unmarked for a reason: The deceased may have been a criminal, or despised by family and community.

It’s difficult to know. However, unmarked graves can be haunted by angry or even mean spirits. EVP from those gravesites can tell quite a story.

The following photos show examples of unmarked graves.

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Unmarked graves

In three photos, you can see what to look for in some cemeteries: depressions in the ground. They’re easiest to spot when a natural feature — stacks of leaves or parched grass — define them.

Two photos show signs that indicate unmarked graves. They could be anywhere in the cemetery. (The metal marker is from City Cemetery in Columbus, Texas. It’s one of my favorite ghost hunting locations. The other is a marker at a cemetery in Austin, Texas. The bodies probably aren’t there. The marker is a memorial to the many soldiers who never returned, and are buried in unknown locations where the American Civil War (the War between the States) was fought.

One photo shows a large family plot at Arch Hill Cemetery in Northfield, NH (USA). That’s an odd plot because it’s well defined. The memorial indicates that the family was wealthy at one time. However, the size of the plot and the lack of markers to indicate others buried there… that’s odd.

I explain more about unmarked graves in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Haunted Cemeteries and Damaged Crypts

Unlike broken and discarded headstones, severely damaged above-ground graves and crypts may not be as useful for paranormal research. Not if you’re looking for ghosts, anyway.

It seems to be one extreme or the other. Either the ghost shows up to complain whenever he (or she) realizes an audience is present… or the ghost has long abandoned the grave. Either he’s crossed over, or he’s followed the body (or selected pieces of it) to wherever it’s stored, now.

Click on any photo to see the larger version.

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Broken gravestones

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In my experience, many empty graves and open crypts attract something non-ghostly. For all I know, they’re aliens. I’m not really sure, and that’s not my research field, anyway.

I know that something seems to frequent those sites, and it’s not human. Never was, unless it’s the ghost of a completely emotionless sociopath.

I avoid whatever-it-is. Ovilus responses are weird. EMF can be even stranger. I haven’t tried EVP at those locations.  It’s not a ghost, so I’m not interested.

You may feel differently. Investigate at your own risk.

Above all, do not enter an open crypt. That’s trespassing, and the air inside could make you ill, at the very least.

According to local lore, bodies in crypts in New Orleans (and probably other very hot climates) decay to dust within a year. So, those warm-climate crypts are probably less risky than those in more northern locations. However, you still run the risk of inhaling dust from rat droppings and health-endangering bacteria and viruses.

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries – Outside Graves

The following photos are related to research techniques described in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

All of the following photos are from South Street cemetery in Portsmouth, NH (USA), and they’re within about 30 feet of the cemetery walls.

The “Where’s Waldo?” photos aren’t related to anyone actually named Waldo. The term references a children’s book, because it’s such a challenge to spot these kinds of headstones in wooded settings.

Note: Several years ago, after my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, was published, one of Mr. Mooney’s relatives contacted me. She planned to have the stone restored to the deceased’s grave.

Click any image to see it larger.

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Graves outside cemetery walls

GhostHuntingCemeteries-200hThe hidden gravestone is in a directly in line with where the toe of my shoe points. Only the very tip of the stone (or perhaps a corner of it) is above the ground. It’s in the top 1/3 of the photo, and between two somewhat horizontal sticks.

For more book-related photos, see my Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries article.

To understand how these photos relate to ghost hunting, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.
This edition is now out-of-print, but you can find it at many public libraries.

101 Ghost Hunting Questions – Answered

101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered, by Fiona Broome. Second edition, 2014.

101 Ghost Hunting Questions - AnsweredDo you have ghost hunting questions?

A few years ago, I wrote this book to answer the top questions I’m asked at events. I also answered the most popular questions I’ve received in email and comments.

I wrote it for beginner and intermediate ghost hunters.

Since the 2014 edition, ghost hunting has changed. Many people ask different questions.

So, this edition of the book is out of print. You can probably find a used copy at Amazon.com or other book sellers. Digital copies may be available at some websites.

And, you can read most of the questions (and answers, of course) from that edition – free – at Ghosts101.com.

Keep in mind: the answers are my opinions. Frankly, when it comes to ghosts — and most paranormal activity — proof doesn’t exist. No ghost hunter — no matter how long he or she has investigated haunted places — has all the answers. All we can offer are well-researched insights, and the conclusions we’ve reached.
MORE INFORMATION

Related reports

What was new in the second edition of this book:

  • Updated information, including a few new questions about ghost hunting and almost 80% revised answers.
  • Expanded answers. This book is about 30% larger than the previous addition. (More than 10,000 words longer.)
  • More added anecdotes. When I could talk about specific sites or people, I’ve mentioned them by name.
  • Errors corrected. Most were simple typos when I rushed the previous book to print in 2012.
  • A new cover, so you can tell the difference between the old version and the new one.

More about the 2014 edition of 101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered

In this book, I focus on getting started in ghost hunting, choosing equipment, and which locations are best for beginners (and a few best for those with nerves of steel). I talk about the popular side of ghost hunting, sharing insider views of TV shows, movies, and books.  Also, I’m honest about what we don’t know… and questions we may never be able to answer.)

I share my views of what’s next, and offer some radical, kind of geeky suggestions. ( Such as: Blinking flashlights might lead us to our biggest breakthroughs, if technology proceeds as predicted.)

In most cases, I answer questions very seriously. However, I sometimes include humorous replies. I hope the difference is clear. (My humor can be sarcastic at times.)

If you’ve wanted to become a ghost hunter — for fun or as a career — you’ll find useful insights among the answers in this book.

Ghosts – What They Are and What They Aren’t

Ghosts – What They Are and What They Aren’t, by Fiona Broome, helps ghost hunters recognize when an entity is not a ghost… and what (if anything) to do about it.

Available at Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, and all Amazon stores. You’ll also find it at KoboBarnes & Noble’s Nook, and iTunes/iBooks.

Related information

Publisher’s book description

GhostsWTA-2014-350hGhosts.  You’ve seen them on TV and in movies.  Maybe you’ve been on a ghost tour, or visited a haunted hotel.

However, if something seems paranormal but it’s not a typical ghost, what else might it be?  And, could it be dangerous?

In this book, paranormal researcher Fiona Broome draws on over 30 years’ experience to explain what we know about ghosts, so far.  Then, she describes other paranormal entities that can be confused with ghosts.

What else might seem like a ghost?

  • Shadow people.
  • Demons.
  • Poltergeists.
  • Cryptozoological creatures (more than just Bigfoot).
  • Angels and spirit guides.
  • Aliens.
  • Faeries.

Ms. Broome explains the basic differences in how these entities manifest… how they’re like ghosts and how they’re different.

If you’re investigating (or living in) a house that might be haunted, and you’ve ruled out normal explanations, it’s still too soon to assume it’s a ghost.

This book explains what else your “ghost” might be, and whether you should be concerned about it.

Read Ghosts: What They Are and What They Aren’t to understand what to watch for — and watch out for — as you evaluate things that go bump in the night.

BUY THE BOOK

Available in Kindle format at Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, and all Amazon stores. You’ll also find it at KoboBarnes & Noble’s Nook, and iTunes/iBooks.

Ghost Photography 101

Ghost Photography 101Ghost Photography 101, by Fiona Broome, was first published in 2011. The first edition is now out-of-print.  A new, completely revised edition is scheduled for 2016.

In this book, I explain the startling results of about six years’ experimentation with film and digital cameras in haunted and not-haunted sites. I wanted proof to support my skepticism about “orb photos” and other anomalies.

I’m only half-joking when I describe this book as “something to offend almost every paranormal investigator, from believers to skeptics.”

The main cause of false anomalies is not what I thought, and it’s a lot more difficult than I expected, to create convincing false orbs.

More information

Publisher’s book description

Ghost photos… are they real?

* Is that orb just dust or pollen or fog?
* Is that vortex actually a piece of hair, or a camera strap?
* Is that apparition really smoke?

Chances are, the answer is no.

Professional photographer (and paranormal researcher) Fiona Broome shows the results of over six years of experiments with a variety of cameras, testing the normal explanations for orbs, vortices, and eerie figures.

Her conclusions…? She — and many other experts — have been wrong about anomalies: As the subtitle says, it’s not just dust.

Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, this book contains something to shock (or at least annoy) almost everyone who thought they understood ghost photos.

Written for beginning and intermediate ghost hunters, this 180+ page book tells you:

* How to select a camera.
* What settings to use.
* Where to take photos.
* How to decide if they’re really ghosts.

However, even professionals will find some unsettling ideas and disturbing evidence in this book.

Fiona invites you to try these same tests. Prove her wrong, if you can.

You may never look at “ghost photos” the same way, again.

BOOK ETA: Mid to late 2016. Currently in revision.

Ghost Photos – False Anomaly Tests

The following are a few photos from more than six years’ tests, trying to fake convincing “ghost photos.” I tried to recreate circumstances I’d blamed for photos with orbs, apparent vortices, and so on.

All of these pictures were taken in low-light conditions. I always used the flash on my camera to try to highlight the deceptive object or issue. I wanted to create false anomalies.

Click on any image to see it larger, with a brief description.

Note: If you’d like to see each full photo without the description over it, right-click on the thumbnail image and select “open in a new tab.” However, the descriptive text doesn’t conceal anything important.

The first group of photos are things that could look paranormal if you didn’t know what was in the picture. Half of the photos show a single piece of hair or a few strands of it. That could happen if a photographer has long hair (as I do) and doesn’t pin it back.

The other photos in this first group show camera straps. I used to think pictures of camera straps always showed both ends of the strap exiting the frame of the photo. Not true. Now I know the weird, textured shape can even seem suspended in front of the photographer.

Also, my camera strap is almost black. The reason it looks white is because the camera’s flash is very bright, and it highlights the camera strap.

About 90% of the “vortex” pictures I’ve seen were probably camera straps, or something like them. If you use a camera strap (recommended, especially in dark settings), be sure to loop it around your wrist or — if it’s a very long strap — over your arm or shoulder.

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Photos of hair and camera straps

The second group of photos shows how difficult it is to create convincing, fake “ghost orbs.”

The first few pictures are flash photos taken on a densely foggy morning. Even the one with the white lines (a spiderweb) doesn’t show convincing-looking orbs.

Next, you can see some smoke photos. Unless your camera is sensitive to smoke, you’d need to be surrounded by smokers for smoke to be a significant issue.  Regular cigarette smoke barely showed up. When we tested clove cigarettes (a different density of smoke), that was slightly more convincing.

Incense looked anomalous in my photos. However, unless your team is using a sage smudge, or the client burns lots of incense at home, I’m not certain we need to be concerned about smoke.

I could not get chimney smoke to show up in photos. Unless weather conditions are “just so,” hot air — and woodsmoke — rise into the atmosphere. Smoke is not likely to descend and remain thick enough to be an issue.  However, smoke from a nearby campfire could be an issue.

The remaining photos show some random samples of test photos, trying to create lens flares and fake orbs. Insects, house lights, and even sparkly, reflective jewelry didn’t produce anything noteworthy.

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Attempts to create false orbs and anomalies

After years of study, using film and digital cameras, I finally had to admit that I’d been mistaken about false, ghostly anomalies.

  • Orbs are much harder to fake than I’d expected. Moisture, reflective surfaces, and even house lights rarely create convincing orbs. Most lens flares are too obvious to confuse with unexplained orbs, and lens flares are far more difficult to create in typical ghost hunting circumstances.
  • Camera straps can cause “vortex” images, even if one or two ends of the strap seem to vanish in the photo. Keep your camera strap wound around your wrist or arm.
  • Hair can cause weird looking lines and swirls, some of them dotted with an orb at the end. Wear a scarf if you’re taking ghost photos.
  • Cigarette smoke is very difficult to capture in a photo. We tried traditional cigarettes (it’s nearly invisible) and clove cigarettes (before the ban). Cloves gave better results, but still aren’t much to worry about.
  • Smoke from the right incense can appear ghostly. However, unless you’re using sage smudges at a site, I don’t think that’s an issue. Cone incense and incense on charcoal dispersed too quickly to photograph. Stick incense produced the best results, but it had to be waved right in front of the lens, even on a very still night.
  • Fog causes faint, repeating orbs. In hundreds of foggy photos, I saw nothing I’d confuse with a ghostly orb.
  • Jewelry, house lights, and spider webs don’t seem to create confusing images in photos.

Don’t take my word for it. That’s important. Run tests with your own cameras. Know how they respond to these kinds of issues. No two cameras have the same sensitivities.