Site icon Traveling for History

Receiving Tomb for the Dead: Rockingham, Vermont: Part of a National Landmark Destination!


I spent quality time down in Bellows Falls and Rockingham, Vermont last Friday.  Today’s video is on the Receiving Tomb in Rockingham.  This tomb is part of the National Historic Landmark, which includes the Rockingham Meeting-House Cemetery and Rockingham Meeting House.  (Videos coming soon!)

“A receiving vault or receiving tomb,[1] sometimes also known as a public vault, is a structure designed to temporarily store dead bodies in winter months when the ground is too frozen to dig a permanent grave in a cemetery. Technological advancements in excavation, embalming, and refrigeration have rendered the receiving vault obsolete.

Receiving vaults largely ceased to be built once powered digging equipment, such as the steam shovel and backhoe, made it possible to dig graves in winter months.[7]

The receiving vault was most commonly seen from the 1800s into the early 1900s.[1] The earliest receiving vaults were simple underground chambers dug out of hills. Where the ground was level, the receiving vault was dug into the earth, and a mound heaped over it to mimic a hill.[1] Receiving vaults stored coffins or bodies in loculi, or shelves, set into the walls of the vault. The interiors were simple, and often plain, with heavy lockable doors to prevent entry by grave robbers or body snatchers.[8]”-

Receiving Tomb in foreground. Rockingham Meeting House in background.
Exit mobile version