Friday, March 7, 2014

Cradle Graves: Not Just for Children

As a Tombstone Tourist, I love to wander cemeteries, looking for historical, artistic and cultural finds. Although I’ve seen these rectangular shaped graves for years, I only recently learned that it is known as a cradle grave.

Headboard and Footboard
Plain Curbing
On some cradle graves, the top is designed to resemble the headboard of a bed and the bottom looks like the footboard. Plain or decorative curbing or molding can also be used to outline a single grave in the shape of a bed; hence these graves are also known as bed graves.

Cement Cradle Grave
Cradle graves began appearing in American cemeteries in early part of the 1800s. This type of marker became popular during the Civil War, but by the 1920’s, they were disappearing from the cemetery scene. Although they can be found throughout the US, cradle graves were more popular in the South and Midwest regions.

Child's Cradle Grave
Adult Cradle Grave
Despite the name, cradle graves were not just for children. Adult graves were also marked in this manner.

White Bronze Cradle Grave
Leaves and Grass on Cradle Grave
The empty space between the curbed sides was usually filled with “blanket plantings” – flowers, grasses, or bushes that filled up the inside of the cradle grave, giving it the full and lush appearance of a bedspread, from spring through fall. In the winter, snow would take on the appearance of a blanket drifting over the grave.

Overgrown White Bronze
Neglected White Bronze
Cradle graves can be found in all types of cemeteries but most are no longer cared for or maintained. A shame since the choice of such a marker indicates someone had hopes that the grave would be tended for years to come …

~ Joy


  1. Your posts are just so interesting, every time! There are cradel graves here in Finland too. I have always wondered why they do that and now I know, thank you for that!

  2. Thanks for this informative post, Joy. I see these types of graves all the time but never knew what they were called. God bless and happy graving.

  3. Some great volunteers here in Memphis, TN are currently working to plant flowers/plantings in the cradle graves at our beautiful Elmwood Cemetery. Enjoyed your article!

    1. That is a wonderful idea. I hope other cemeteries follow your example!

    2. I am one of the Elmwood cradle grave gardeners. One of the most rewarding and enjoyable things I have done.

    3. I am so impressed with your group! I hope others will follow your example.