Located on the 400 block of Ann Street in Beaufort’s historic district, the town’s oldest cemetery holds fascinating stories about Beaufort’s 300-year history! Established in the early 1700’s, its weathered tombstones chronicle the heritage of North Carolina’s third oldest town and the surrounding coast. Used for Anglican church services in nearby St. John’s Parish, the cemetery was later deeded to the town of Beaufort in 1731 by Nathaniel Taylor following the first survey of the town. Today, the Old Burying Ground is owned and maintained by the Town of Beaufort.
Many graves are marked with shell, brick, or wooden slabs because stone markers would have to have been brought from afar by wooden sailing vessels. Others have vaulted markers, which were covered in brick to protect them from high water and wild animals and are characteristic of many historic seaport towns. Uncovered by an archaeological survey in 1992, the seemingly empty northwest corner of the cemetery is in fact its oldest section, with many unmarked graves dating from the early 18th century. A record from September 1711 notes the area had “been depopulated by the late Indian War and Massacre.” It is probable some of the unmarked graves were victims of the Indian wars whose skulls were cleft with tomahawks of hostile Coree and Neusiok Indians. Other inhabitants include a child who died at sea and was buried in a keg of rum, as well as the great privateer Captain Otway Burns and the crew of the Crissie Wright who died when their schooner went aground at Shackleford Banks during a January storm in 1886.
For information about guided tours visit our TOURS page.
Self-guided tour maps are also available inside the gates of the Old Burying Ground and at the Welcome Center on Turner Street.
Old Burying Ground: We’ve got an app for that!
Free Smartphone Audio Tour!
To make the history of the Old Burying Ground come alive, the Beaufort Historical Association has partnered with Uniguide Tours, a travel app offering hundreds of free audio tours all over the United States. The app can be downloaded on either Google Play or the iTunes App Store. Photographs of the tombstones are shown while a narrator gives the history.
The Uniguide Tours are not meant to replace the Association’s live guided tours, rather they are meant to develop interest for further guided tours of the Old Burying Ground with the Beaufort Historical Association’s many knowledgeable guides. Tours depart from the Welcome Center at 130 Turner Street. The Old Burying Ground is located on Ann Street within easy walking distance from the Historic Site. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. For more information about tours of the Old Burying Ground or other activities offered by the Beaufort Historical Association, stop by the Welcome Center, call 252-728-5225.