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Oldest graveyard in Charleston contains rare 18th century tombstones

Detail of tombstone portrait
Detail of tombstone portrait

Although the current Circular Congregational Church, Meeting St. was built in the 1890s, it is the fourth church on this site, and has the oldest graveyward in the city.  Among its treasures are a superb collection of 18th century tombstones, mostly of New England slate, many carved and some signed by master sculptors of the genre.

Winged "soul" head detail from an 18th century tombstone, Circular Congregational Church graveyard
Photo by the author

Colonial, Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary stones with portraits, winged "soul" heads, and skull and bones ornamentation adorn the burial sites of some of Charleston's oldest and most distinguished families. They are some of the rarest and finest examples of 18th century funerary art outside New England.  Most are located along a walkway on the Meeting St. side of the graveyard.

The grounds are frequently open to the public (as indicated by open gates), and photography is welcome, but due the age and fragility of the stones, please do not take rubbings.

For guidance on locating the church, obtain a Charleston map from the Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St.
 

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