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Unique Charleston Burial Traditions

Unique Charleston Burial Traditions – The Bedstead Grave

A Bedstead Grave in Charleston, SC
Three Bedstead Graves in Charleston, SC

From the beginning of the Charlestowne Colony, the only law to set up a place of worship was that you had to believe in God, and could not be openly Catholic ( this was only until right after the Revolutionary War.)

This idea of freedom of religion brought about unique traditions from different cultures of Europe. For example, a common type of grave found from the 1700s to the 1900s, were bedstead graves. Bedstead graves were designed to literally mean rest in peace. You will notice that the grave headstone is setup to be the headboard of the bed and end of the grave is set up to be the footing of the bed.

It was not uncommon even as late as the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to have a picnic lunch next to your ancestors after a worship service. The open area was set aside so that loved ones could plant their favorite flowers on top of you in the spring time.

A Half Column Grave Monument

Other common grave markers found throughout Charleston include columns.  A half column monument represents that the person’s life was cut short.  The young male or female died early in life; probably around their mid-twenties or early thirties. A full column, represents the person lived a long full life.

On many occasions, people would sketch symbols into graves the items or representations of what they felt was important to the deceased; family, society, or work symbols were some of the common ones.

Charleston Grave Monument
Posted on April 8, 2014

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