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Do gravestones in cemeteries without human remains count as burial grounds or as memorials?

So let's say for example a veteran died while on duty in a way that their remains could not be recovered. But their family still wanted to have a spot to mourn for them. So they go to a cemetery, buy a plot, and put up a headstone.

Without the human remains, would it count as a burial ground or tomb marker or something, or would it be more akin to a veteran's memorial?

I would say it would be more like a burial ground and not count, but I've heard some people say it could be the latter.


  • NorthSeaPoet-INGNorthSeaPoet-ING Posts: 895 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I attempted to Googke an answer for this, but failed to find anything worthwhile referencing.

    Technically speaking, it's not a burial ground without something to be buried, in this human remains. However, I'm of a similar opinion to you in that I would still regard it as a grave. Unless we're explicitly told that there are no remains in the grave, then we can't say for certain if someone in buried there, and as such, should act as if there are remains in the site.

  • GearGlider-INGGearGlider-ING Posts: 1,330 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yeah, it's not really standard in the US or anywhere to say whether or not a burial ground contains the remains or not, so it's a good to default on treating it like a standard burial ground with remains.

  • Gazzas89-PGOGazzas89-PGO Posts: 2,330 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm if the opinion that unless it's a gravestone that's for a famous person and is open and welcomes public viewing (elvis I had in my head but dunno if they actually do that), gravestones are not allowed. War memorials are ok as they are not burial remains (either literal or symbolic)

  • Gendgi-PGOGendgi-PGO Posts: 3,354 Ambassador

    If there are no human remains tied to them, it would fall under traditional memorial guidelines.

    Memorials are eligible, but only for significant figures in a community or for significant events. Memorials that contain human remains should adhere to the acceptance criteria for gravestones. 

    Since they are memorials located in a cemetery, they also fall under cemetery guidelines.

    Cemeteries or Graveyards

    • Acceptable: Headstones, statues or memorials dedicated to a historical figure, someone who is significant to the local community, or groups of individuals. For example, a WWII Veteran memorial.
    • Not acceptable: Signs at the entrance of cemeteries, cemetery directories, other headstones or memorials (regardless of how visually unique or artistic they are), or funeral homes.

    I think we need more clarification if "for example, a WWII Veteran memorial" means a simple grave marker (of which there could be millions of) or if it means a standalone monument dedicated to all WWII veterans.

  • AgentB0ss-INGAgentB0ss-ING Posts: 553 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is a tough question. I really think it would come down to the surroundings too. If all the other gravesites next to this spot contained remains and the area was still active I would be hesitant. Now if it was an area, of just similar stones without remains nearby I would be more include as a memorial and think it would be more acceptable.

  • GearGlider-INGGearGlider-ING Posts: 1,330 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I guess it would also depend on if it was historically/culturally significant. If it was just a regular person, they probably wouldn't unless they had other stuff going on. If it was a veteran, probably also not unless they had some high distinction/award for their service. And even then, it wraps back to the original question of if it was something made to be treated as a burial ground, would that even qualify the same way a memorial would?

  • NorthSeaPoet-INGNorthSeaPoet-ING Posts: 895 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Agreed. Most, if not all, soldier that are buried are generally regarded as veterans to some degree. So by saying a veteran's grave marker is acceptable could lead to several in one area being nominated/approved. I think the criteria is clear enough that if they're significant to the local area or on a historical basis that the grave is acceptable.

    I had a grave marker approved a few months ago for a gentleman called George Symons. He was a Crimean War veteran, who won the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his efforts with the Siege Train in 1855. Without that historic aspect, I don't think that the wayspot would have been approved.

    In regards to your last point, a memorial, in my opinion is different to a burial site. Like we have in my town a memorial fountain, and a memorial stone, dedicated to Dr. Humphrey Sandwith, who served in the Crimean War and won various awards in the British, French, and I think Russian, empires for this work as a military doctor and for the mercy and kindness he showed to prisoners of war.

    A memorial serves to preserve the memory of someone or more than just an individual, whereas a grave marker is what it says on the tin in my opinion, a marker for the grave (literal or symbolic) of the deceased. Though I suspect that this does all boil down to a matter of opinion as well as cultural beliefs and concepts.

  • GearGlider-INGGearGlider-ING Posts: 1,330 ✭✭✭✭✭
  • Rostwold-INGRostwold-ING Posts: 172 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2020

    If there's someone buried in the ground, it's a burial ground.

    If there isn't anyone buried in the ground, it's not a burial ground.

    (Edit - I find it hilarious that someone managed to disagree with this. If that was you, go buy a dictionary and look up the words "burial" and "ground".)

    Post edited by Rostwold-ING on
  • Rostwold-INGRostwold-ING Posts: 172 ✭✭✭✭

    If there are any people buried in the ground there, then it's a burial ground.

  • AgentB0ss-INGAgentB0ss-ING Posts: 553 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A memorial plaque still needs to be a notable member of the community and the submitter would need to prove that.

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