Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA

Went on a visit today to the Pilgrim Hall Museum, then took a stroll through downtown Plymouth and ended up at Burial Hill, overlooking Plymouth Harbor. Nearby Cole’s Hill has the monument which always comes to mind: “ The Monument marks the First Burying Ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Here under cover of darkness the fast dwindling company laid their dead, leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should know how many were the graves.” Cole’s Hill also has the large statue of Massasoit, as well as a sarcophagus which holds the bones of Pilgrims which periodically wash out from the hill, due to rains and erosion. (My mind always excites at notions of performing DNA testing on these bones!) Here’s a good description of Cole’s Hill and its significance.

Burial Hill, however, is separate and was once the main location for Plymouth’s fort. The oldest stone is 1681. James Deetz did much research in Plymouth, and wrote much about the area.

The main entrance to Burial Hill is well-marked:

A broad brick walkway leads up the Hill:

Here is a sketch from 1853 of Burial Hill:

(Bartlett, The Pilgrim Fathers (London: Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co., 1853))

And my contemporary view of the Harbor:

Burial Hill was the site of the first fort, as well as the powder house towards the back end, where another entrance is. It is also filled with many of the famous Pilgrims of the Mayflower and their descendants.

William Bradford’s obelisk:

John Howland:

Burial Hill is steeped in history and Pilgrim lore, and the town of Plymouth knows it well. The place is sprinkled with an array of signs, plaques, and monuments from clubs and organizations marking places of importance and people of significance within the cemetery. For all of its touristy nature, however, it still makes for a fun experience.