Located at the heart of downtown Plymouth, Burial Hill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ fort, the Hill has been used as a burying ground since the 17th century. Over 2,000 headstones and monuments dating from 1681 to 1957 survive, providing records of the lives of Plymoutheans across three centuries.
“Remember me as you pass by”: Gravestone Epitaphs & Iconography
In this five-part series Dr. Anne Mason, Executive Director of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, provides an introduction to popular 18th- and 19th-century gravestone motifs visible on Burial Hill. Carved symbols and inscriptions reveal religious beliefs, cultural attitudes, and perspectives on death.
For photographs of the gravestones highlighted in these videos, click here.
Continue learning about this topic in Plymouth’s Oak Grove Cemetery. View Executive Director Anne Mason’s tour from May 2, 2020 below.
Get outside and explore on your own! Download our gravestone iconography scavenger hunt and see if you can find all of the symbols in your local cemetery! Click here for a printable PDF.
Tales of the Sea
Executive Director Anne Mason shared stories of Plymoutheans’ experiences at sea in this video, live-streamed via Facebook on April 4, 2020, from the Holmes family plot on Burial Hill.
Take a digital tour on Historypin where you can read more stories from local maritime history and see some of the associated gravestones.
Learn more about Burial Hill’s gravestones using these free online resources:
- Bradford Kingman, Epitaphs from Burial Hill (1892): Digital copy available at Internet Archive
- Benjamin Drew, Burial Hill: Its Monuments and Gravestones (1894): Digital copy available at Internet Archive
- Barbara J. Bradford Robinson, Howard E. Robinson & Cynthia L. Robinson, Burial Hill in the 1990s (Plymouth Public Library Corporation, 2000): Digital copy available at Internet Archive
- Friends of Burial Hill Gravestone Surveys: Online database
- Town of Plymouth Cemetery Burial Record Search: Online database