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Tent Graves or Comb Graves

Tent Graves or Comb Graves. These are grave plots that have a triangle front and back with two stone slabs on the sides to make a triangle. Giving a tent like appearance. Some might know these as Triangle Celtic Graves.

Tent Graves or Comb Graves

Heather of SimplySpokn and I visited Red Bird Baptist Church in Williamsburg, KY. on September 8, 2017. She showed me these special, unique and rare gravestones. Heather called them Triangle Celtic Graves. When I did research, I couldn’t find anything about that, but I did find info on Tent Graves and Comb Graves and they looked very similar to the ones she showed me at Red Bird.

Tent Graves or Comb Graves at Red Bird Baptist Church in Williamsburg, KY

So you can say these grave plots have both a headstone and a footstone. Some people call them Comb Burials. Some of these dates to the early 1800’s to the early 1920’s or 1930’s. These have also been known as maybe a version of a crypt.

Quote from Ashes to Ashes: Burial Upper Cumberland Style

Comb graves are described by Richard Finch in Ashes to Ashes: Burial Upper Cumberland Style: “Graveyards of the Cumberland region are noteworthy for the variety of covered graves that have been found here… Comb graves are clearly the most outstanding style of folk graves to develop in the region. A typical grave consists of two flat sandstone slabs leaned together to form a protective roof along the full length of the grave. Comb graves in the Rock Island-McMinnville area employ triangular end stones underneath to support the side slabs… most combs are accompanied by an engraved headstone, but in the Sparta area a number of cemeteries feature combs with the inscription cut on one of the side slabs.”

Purpose of these gravestones

Many show these structures of tent grave stones were to prevent wild animals from disturbing the graves. Plus, reports show that when they dug the grave, it would have extra dirt left over, due to putting the body or the coffin in the ground. So they would have extra dirt and place it on top of the grave then enclose it with the stones to make a tent grave. The two side slabs were to help prevent water from seeping down into the coffin.

Check out what gravestone symbols mean.

Gravestone Symbols

Materials Used for Tent Graves

  • Aluminum
  • Limestone
  • Concrete
  • Marble
  • Stone
  • Tin



Where to find Tent Graves

Ray Hutchinson in his blog post, says, “The greatest number of comb burials are found in family cemeteries across the highland rim.”  According to WikiPedia, “The Highland Rim is encountered a few miles west of Nashville and extends to the western valley of the Tennessee River. The area is a hilly area that is bisected by the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River valleys.”

Not to mention, you can find tent graves or comb graves in these states Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky. More so in the eastern highland rim of the Cumberland Plateau.

Here is a list of some of the places you can find these types of graves

  • Bohannon Family Cemetery
  • Cash Family Cemetery
  • Cub Cemetery
  • Davis Cemetery
  • Falling Springs Cemetery
  • France Cemetery
  • Gordon Maxwell Cemetery
  • Greenwood Cemetery
  • Herd-Rogers Cemetery
  • Hill Cemetery
  • Hillis Cemete
  • Holmes Cemetery
  • Hop T Lee Cemetery
  • Jericho Church
  • Lavender Family Cemetery
  • Liberty Hill
  • Lovelady-Sims Cemetery
  • Mt. Gilead Cemetery
  • Mt. Pisgah Church Cemetery
  • Old Baptist Graveyard
  • Old Bon Air Cemetery
  • Old Jericho Cemetery
  • Old Union Cemetery
  • Old Zion Cemetery
  • Pippin Family Cemetery
  • Pollard Family Cemetery
  • Red Bird Baptist Church Cemetery
  • Riverview Cemetery
  • Rock Springs Cemetery
  • Saylors Cemetery
  • Spears Family Cemetery
  • Summers Cemetery
  • Warren Cemetery
  • Winningham Cemetery

GraveWalkers states “There are hundreds of these structures from near Albany , KY and across Tennessee mainly in the counties of Fentress, Overton, Putnam, White, Warren , Van Buren and continuing into Coffee County. They are also found in limited numbers in northern Alabama and northern Arkansas.”

If you visit a cemetery, please show respect for the grave and the graveyard and surrounding area. Please also remember some family cemetery you could face trespassing charges. So make sure to obey the laws.

From the list above, it seems to be more commonly found in family cemeteries. If you know of any other locations, feel free to share in the comments below.

Today

When you see most of them today, they are sunk down, destroyed or broken. Most of it could be due to weather. However, sadly, sometimes due to humans mistreating graves and walking on them.

Triangle Celtic Graves at the Red Bird Baptist Church cemetery #TriangleCelticGraves

Triangle Celtic Graves at the Red Bird Baptist Church cemetery #TriangleCelticGraves

Sources:

| Gravestone Symbols | Tent Graves | Cleaning Old Gravestones |

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About

My name is Steve Patterson and I am saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. I have been blogging at Courageous Christian Father since 2012, however, I have been blogging since around 2004. At church I help with the youth, van ministry, ushering or wherever else needed. Currently, I am working on my bachelors of theology. I am a father of an adult child. I work as a graphic designer. I also love listening to nothing but Christian Music. I am an Eagle Scout class of 1994. Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle.

Comments

  1. Heather says:

    Thank you for sharing with others about the graves. They are becoming increasingly rare, as so many get vandalized.

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