What is a Graveyard?

A graveyard is a place where people are buried. It is usually located close to a church. If the churchyard gets full, independent sites called cemeteries are built away from the town/city center.

Interestingly, the terms cemetery and graveyard are sometimes used interchangeably, but technically, they are not the same thing. Here are the main differences:


A graveyard is a space where people are buried. It is also known as a burial ground, churchyard and cemetery. It is a place where people come to remember the dead.

In the early medieval period, people were buried in their local churchyards. This caused the churchyard to become crowded and unsanitary. It was also difficult to maintain the graves because of scavenging animals and the threat of human putrefaction infiltrating the water supply.

During this time, people used mounds of earth for older graves and short-lasting markers like flowers for more recent ones. The use of a graveyard became more widespread in the Victorian era when it was considered socially acceptable to bury people in a place that could be enjoyed by everyone. This change was partly due to changing religious attitudes, different ways of commemorating the dead and practical considerations regarding burial. These changes shaped how graveyards have developed into enjoyable community spaces.


Until around the 7th Century, churches had a monopoly on burials and were the only place to bury the dead. The part of the church’s premises that was dedicated to this activity was known as a graveyard.

As the population grew, church graveyards became full, so independent sites called cemeteries were established to allow more people to be laid to rest. They also have less religious requirements, which means that people of any religion or no religion can be buried there.

Today, people often use the words cemetery and graveyard interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two. Generally, graveyards are associated with churches and have restrictions regarding headstone colours and epitaphs. Cemeteries do not have this limitation and are more likely to be located away from a town or city center. This is mainly due to space requirements and land ownership. They may also have more modern and streamlined facilities such as columbarium walls.


In many cultures, graveyards are considered sacred places. As the final resting place of the dead, they are associated with the afterlife and spirits. Consequently, they can hold powerful energies that can be used in magic and spiritual practices. Graveyard dirt is especially popular in hoodoo and African American folk magic, as it is believed to possess healing and protective properties.

It can also be used in spells to manifest goals and desires, such as money or love. However, it is important to use graveyard dirt with caution and intention. It is best mixed with other magical ingredients to amplify its effects and tailor its energies towards specific intentions.


Historically, churches had the complete monopoly on burials and graveyards were located within church grounds. Over time, however, these burial sites began to run out of space. When this happened, non-church-associated cemeteries were established.

In World of Warcraft, a graveyard is a special location where a character can pay their respects to the deceased. These are often used as shortcuts, but some people avoid them because they are superstitious about being spooked by ghosts and other supernatural occurrences.

Graveyards also serve as botanical preserves, according to a study. Even the smallest burial sites host an impressive number of native plant species, compared to other crop fields in the same region. Researchers surveyed the headstones in one graveyard and then compared the data to a nearby wheat field. The findings were surprising.

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