Skip to content

Why do Historic Cemeteries have so many Benches?

April A to Z Challenge 2020: It’s that time of year! Every April, bloggers around the world make posts for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to make friend online. Here’s my post for today:

[The following is an adapted excerpt from my book, Understanding Cemetery Symbols. I hope you enjoy it! Also, full disclosure: that’s an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy stuff after clicking it, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you.]

Benches have a long tradition in historic cemeteries. (c) Tui Snider
Why are there so many Benches in Historic Cemeteries?

Next time you visit a burial ground, look around: if seating is available, it will be in the form of benches, not chairs. Yes, you may see the occasional chair, but benches are much more common. Why is that?

Benches have a long tradition in historic cemeteries. (c) Tui Snider

Ancient Greek Tradition

The use of benches in cemeteries stretches all the way back to ancient Greece. After erecting a table stone to place food and wine on during gravesite festivities, ancient Greeks often built a type of stone bench called an exedra. This gave families a place to sit during gravesite visits.

Greek Revival Benches

From the Victorian Era through the 1920s, curved benches and Greek-revival style monuments were in vogue. The first two photos in this post are examples of this. In ancient Greece, exedrae were found in public parks and gymnasiums as well as cemeteries. They were often curved, as you can see.

Benches have a long tradition in historic cemeteries. (c) Tui Snider

Memorial Benches Remain Popular

To this day, benches in gardens and public parks are still used to memorialize people, even if it’s a traditional wooden bench with a small engraved plaque. Isn’t it interesting that an ancient Greek tradition has followed us all the way to the present day? In fact, if you Google “memorial benches,” you will see that benches are still quite popular.

Benches are for sitting – but use caution!

At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I will also point out that cemetery benches are meant to be sat upon. However, you need to be extremely cautious. Shifting ground can make stone benches unstable. Use your common sense!

Learn more at my Historic Cemetery Podcast & Facebook Page:

Do you have questions about symbols you’ve seen on headstones? Drop by Exploring Historic Cemeteries on Facebook and let me know! And tune in to my 30-minute historic cemetery podcast on the first Tuesday of each month: Tombstone Tuesday with Tui Snider.

READ MY BOOK: If you enjoy historic cemeteries and want to learn more, check out my book: Understanding Cemetery Symbols. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and ebook form.

Grab a FREE copy of my book:

Sign up below for your FREE book:

We respect your email privacy

Tui Snider
Follow me:
Published in#TuiSnider #Texas #author #musicianA to Z ChallengeBlog on Writing & LifeBlog PostsCemeteries & SymbolismHistoric CemeteriesMy Books


  1. Good to see you doing the Challenge again! :) And now I’m wondering if Hungarian cemeteries have the type of commemorative benches too… ours doesn’t. I like the idea of sitting and remembering the dead.

    • I’ve yet to visit any cemeteries in Hungary, but if you find anything interesting, please pass it along!

  2. Really. There are many traditions and rituals that we still perform that go further back than we ever imagined.

    The Old Shelter – Living the Twenties

    • Oh, you’re absolutely right! History touches us in more ways than we realize.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.