Yesterday's Myths & Mysteries

The Tombstone Tourists (Or, Taphophiles)

I haven’t posted too much this summer, if you haven’t noticed. Mostly it’s because, well, it’s summer, but I’ve also been up to other things outside Stranger Dimensions. Namely, genealogy research. That means pouring over old documents, photographs, and trekking through a few graveyards in order to find better information about distant family members.

Fun stuff.

Anyway, it’s pretty interesting to wander those old tombstones, and in fact there’s a name for people who tour cemeteries. They’re called taphophiles, or cemetery enthusiasts. The word itself means “an excessive interest in graves and cemeteries.” I wouldn’t say I’m one, as I was just out looking for specific information, but I can see the appeal.

“Tombstone tourist…describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries. This involves epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths…Cemetery tourists can be interested in the historical aspects of cemeteries or the historical relevance of its inhabitants.”

Cemeteries contain a lot of history, and the variety of tombstones styles and, in many cases, the ravages of time itself can be fascinating to explore. Here are just a few pictures (taken with a cell phone, so a bit…off) of some forgotten tombstones I came across during my trek through one cemetery:

tombstone1 tombstone2 tombstone3 tombstone4 tombstone5

If you’d like to do some online tombstone touring of your own, check out Find A Grave, which contains a database of grave information and (sometimes) pictures of tombstones. They don’t have information on every tombstone out there, but it’s a pretty good resource.

Have you ever wandered a cemetery?


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.


  1. I know this is an older post, but it was a really interesting read for me. I have also spent two plus years on Genealogy research and can relate to pouring over documents, photographs, death records, etc, etc.. It takes a lot of work and is really time consuming, not only because of the research, but also all of the checking, rechecking and verifying again that you have the right person, the right record, etc. It is really interesting though. I have learned a lot of amazing things, solved a few mysteries, and found more than a few skeletons in the family closet! I like the cemetery pictures you posted, they are very cool- I have taken quite a few myself.

    1. I haven’t done much research lately, but one of the most annoying things I’ve found with Genealogy is thinking I’ve made a breakthrough only to later realize I’m not actually related to a certain person, forcing me to wipe out an entire line on the tree and start over. It can definitely get complicated.

      The whole process is very interesting, though.

      1. I haven’t done much of it lately either. Yeah, I agree that is very annoying and it doesn’t help any when you are dealing with a very common last name. There are some things I have figured out that help with that, but it definitely seems that for every big thing you discover, there are so many little things in between that you don’t.