Aerial Photo of Church and Graveyard

Who is Buried in Your Cemetery?

How digital mapping helps cemeteries share their history and attract visitors seeking the gravesites of the famous and the interesting.
December 28, 2020

Most cemeteries, even small ones, have someone of interest buried on site. Maybe it’s a local poet. Maybe it’s a war hero. Maybe it’s a famous celebrity. However, if no one knows that individual is buried in your cemetery, then you’re less likely to receive visitors such as cemetery tourists, historians, or distant relatives. Cemetery mapping can change that.

Cemetery mapping software is the latest technology in the funeral industry, and it is changing how the business is done by allowing cemeteries to announce who is buried in their cemetery.

Cemetery Mapping Software

The latest in cemetery management software contains digital mapping capabilities that go beyond the former cemetery layout methods.

Imagine using a high-tech drone with a twenty-megapixel camera to fly over the cemetery grounds and photograph not just headstones, but so much more. Mausoleums, service buildings, and even landscaping can all be captured in high-quality images to be displayed on your website and used in digital mapping situations.

Once the drone is finished, you’ll be able to enter the map through the cemetery layout software, place markers within the digital map, and label each marker appropriately. You can enter the individual’s name with their birth and death dates, or you could choose to add more details, such as other words that are on the tombstone or relevant history and significance of the individual.

Cemetery Tourism

Adding famous burial sites using your digital cemetery software can support your cemetery’s growth and increase profitability, particularly in areas with high tourism rates or cemeteries near other historic or popular burials.

While cemeteries are solemn and peaceful locations that are often filled with memories, they are also historic sites that have artistic monuments, beautifully landscaped properties, and ancient tombs. There are stories to be told within the rows of stones, and accurate cemetery maps help tell those tales.

Formerly, individuals wishing to locate a specific grave had to use handwritten maps or delve deeply into research, both online and off. Perhaps they’d luck into an old newspaper article that included a gravesite, or they’d find a crowd-sourced listing that was accurate. But many times, they’d wander the cemetery, reading row after row of stones and hoping to find the one they were seeking. Thankfully, cemetery mapping has made it easy to locate specific graves.

Cemetery tourists enjoy visiting various properties across the country and around the world. They’re drawn towards the unique and the beautiful when seeking the next cemetery they’ll visit. Walking tours that utilize digital cemetery mapping allow visitors to see famous burial sites, visit the final resting place of a long lost relative, or simply enjoy the stunning scenery. They can learn about our history through a famous war hero’s life story or from a 100-year-old oak tree that survived a lightning strike, and with a good cemetery management software, you can ensure they hear the stories that your cemetery has to tell.

Since cemetery tourism is becoming increasingly popular, it is important to ensure that famous burials sites are marked and easy to find. Cemetery layout software allows for properly labeled digital markers and interactive tours that not only cater to tourists, but also brings them back for annual events, memorial services, and other activities for the local community.

Quote "It’s important to understand that the story behind the stone is what attracts cemetery tourists."

Interesting Burial Sites

Interesting and popular burial sites run the gamut from the famous to the infamous and everything in between. It’s important to understand that the story behind the stone is what attracts cemetery tourists. Providing them with that information is a cemetery manager’s job.

Forest Lawn Cemetery, located in Western New York, is one of the first deliberately and professionally designed cemeteries in the United States. Visitors enjoy the natural landscape of hills, valleys, lakes, and streams, along with sculptures and stunning views.

The first burial at Forest Lawn took place in 1850, and today there are more than 161,000 souls in the 269-acre property. Tourists come from across the state and from around the country to learn the stories of those who now reside in the cemetery, including a U.S. President, foreign royalty, artists, inventors, important business leaders, and veterans in every U.S. conflict since the Revolutionary War.

Some interesting “permanent residents” at Forest Lawn Cemetery include:

  • Willis Haviland Carrier, inventor of modern air conditioning
  • Dr. Frederick Cook, discoverer of the North Pole
  • Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States, along with his first and second wives and his son
  • Rick James, music legend
  • Edward Austin Kent, renowned architect who perished aboard the Titanic
  • Brigadier General Albert Myer, founder of the National Weather Service
  • Ely Parker, Civil War Legend
  • Prince Kyril Scherbatow, Russian prince and godson to Czar Nicholas II
  • Alfred P. Southwick, inventor of the electric chair
  • Charles Reidpath, Olympic Gold Medalist


Forest Lawn offers digital cemetery mapping for tourists to locate each individual they wish to visit more efficiently. They have virtual tours on their website and through their app. Additionally, they feature expansive archives and genealogical resources through the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center. The cemetery is also known for its award-winning tours, concerts, lectures, and special events.

Northern Cemeteries of Sydney, Australia – which include Macquarie Park in North Ryde, Frenchs Forest in Davidson, Field of Mars in Ryde, Gore Hill of St. Leonards, and Sandgate in Newcastle – also offers walking tours and virtual tours on their website with the use of digital mapping. Each location has a distinct personality to cater to the diverse community surrounding Sydney’s North Shore. Northern Cemeteries offers a free search facility to help tourists and loved ones with genealogy and family history research.

Some of Australia’s interesting figures buried at Macquarie Park Cemetery include:

  • Johnny O’Keefe, an Australian rock ‘n roll singer
  • Flora Hannah MacKillop, Mother of Australia’s first Saint Mary MacKillop
  • Rev. Theodore Delwin ‘Ted’ Noffs, Founder of Wayside Chapel, Wesley Church Minister and Humanitarian


England is home to many famous burial sites, including:

  • Amy Winehouse, singer, at the Edgwarebury Cemetery, Edgware
  • Robin and Andy Gibb from the BeeGees at St. Mary’s Church, Thame
  • Brian Jones, founder and original leader of Rolling Stones, Cheltenham
  • John Bonham, Led Zeppelin drummer, St. Michael, and All Angels Church, Rushock
  • Sir Winston Churchill, St. Martin’s Church, Bladon
  • George Orwell, author, Church of All Saints, Sutton Courtenay


Whether big or small, a cemetery could draw in tourists who are seeking the gravesites of well-known individuals. They want to visit the final resting place not only of the famous but also of the interesting. Finding the stories behind the stones is possible with cemetery mapping software, and preserving this history is fundamental in attracting cemetery tourists, who can revive a property by keeping alive the memory of those who have passed away.

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