Most cemeteries have graves which are dug out of the ground. However, a few cemeteries have tombs that are all above ground. Is there a single word that describes these types of cemeteries?

Mausoleum is not the answer I'm looking for, because a mausoleum is a single building that holds one or more tombs. I'm looking for the word for the land that would hold many mausolea, for example.


For example, all the cemeteries in New Orleans are above ground because New Orleans is built below sea level in a flood plain. The tombs are all called vaults. All the references I can find refer to the land incorporating the vaults are above-ground cemeteries. But I thought one time I heard a single-word term for the same. Here is an example.

  • Can you tell us where you have seen one of these places? An address might be helpful to look up what the community calls it.
    – jejorda2
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 19:35
  • @jejorda2: For example, all the cemeteries in New Orleans are above ground because New Orleans is built below sea level in a flood plane.
    – user0939
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 19:46
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    Probably the following definition comes close: The Monumental Cemetery: Monumental cemeteries are cemeteries in which headstones or other monuments made of marble, granite or similar materials rise vertically above the ground. However, because maintenance of monuments is the responsibility to the family, and further because of the number of graves inside the cemetery, monumental cemeteries have been considered unsightly. mysendoff.com/2012/05/the-15-types-of-cemeteries
    – user66974
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:00
  • Where I live (Latin America), in-ground burial plots, mausolea, small family plots with niches, and long walls of niches are mixed together. It all depends on how much money the family has. The poor get buried in the long walls of stacked vaults like your picture. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Necropolis may be an option.

Wiktionary says:

A large cemetery, especially one of elaborate construction in an ancient city. [...] From Ancient Greek νεκρόπολις (nekrópolis, “city of the dead”), from νεκρός (nekrós, “dead”) + πόλις (pólis, “city”).

Although not limited to the type of cemetery described by the OP, some authors use the term. Necropolis also used for cemeteries where bodies buried but with significant structures/monuments above ground, like the Glasgow Necropolis. The ancient Egyptian pyramids are also referred to using the term.

Quoting Mysteriousheartland.com

Inside New Orleans’ Necropolis.
[...] Opened in New Orleans in 1789, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is one of the most famous cemeteries in the United States, if not the world.[...] a few blocks from the French Quarter, its strange residents and aged, crumbling aboveground vaults make this necropolis a popular tourist destination.

Wikipedia states:

A necropolis is a large ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments. Ancient Greek νεκρόπολις nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead". The term implies a separate burial site at a distance from a city as opposed to tombs within cities, which were common in various places and periods of history. They are different from grave fields, which did not have remains above the ground. While the word is most commonly used for ancient sites, it has also been used for some modern cemeteries such as the Glasgow Necropolis.

  • 2
    @Josh Here's one modern cemetery calling itself a necropolis- glasgownecropolis.org used from 1832
    – k1eran
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:33
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    I would say that New Orleans is the prime example of this in the US, so whatever term is used there is probably about as good as you can do. Likely other terms are used in other parts of the world.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:35
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    Yes, necropolis is a term you study at school to refer to ancient Greek, Roman etc, cemeteries.
    – user66974
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:40
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    The Glasgow Necropolis probably has few if any above-ground burials; the unusual name is probably related to the fact that there are many ornate and massive grave monuments. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:40
  • 2
    I am not saying that your answer is wrong, but you need to clarify its usage.
    – user66974
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:41

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