Many times when visiting older cemeteries there will be indications of unmarked graves. These can be indicated by among other things, rectangular indentations in the ground.  There are a number of methods of determining the exact locations of these graves, including the following:

Ground Penetrating Radar (G.P.R.)
Ground penetrating radar surveys are useful for grave location. This method can locate the coffin, the person, objects buried with the person, or the burial trench into which the coffin or body was placed. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is operated above the ground surface, and produces a cross-sectional image on the screen of the grave location that is underground. Unfortunately, badly decomposed bodies or those who are buried in wood coffins are extremely difficult to find. It is easier if bodies have things like belt or boot buckles.

Ground Scraping
You can scrape the soil down about one foot over the area you want to check and look for burial shafts. When the dirt is taken out and returned there is a color difference. 20 acres is a bit much for this technique.

Grave Dowsing
Dowsing, also known as rhabdomancy, divining, water witching, or doodlebugging, is an old practice of finding water or minerals by the means of a dowsing rod. A dowsing rod is traditionally a forked stick which is held firmly in one's hands in a way that allows the rod to swing up or down at the slightest impulse, supposedly indicating the presence of the sought-after material. The mechanism behind the detection is believed to depend on energy fields hitherto unknown to science. The hypothesis is that these energy fields are emitted by all objects at different frequencies and intensities. The origin of the practice is not clear, but the earliest sign of its usage dates from a 4500-5000 year old grave inscription in Brittany.

The subject of grave dowsing has been much discussed and Saving Graves chooses not to enter into the debate. However, we feel it may be of some help to offer the following points regarding the subject:

1. In virtually every case where someone who uses this method is asked to explain scientifically how the process works, they have no idea, but they know that it works for them.

2. Many people may not aware of the many Scientific studies and experiments, all of which disproves dowsing capabilities. In one such study conducted in 1986, University Physicists from the University of Munich and the Technical University of Munich in Munich Germany spent 400,000 German marks (about $250,000.00) testing the dowsing theory. The results provide the most convincing disproof imaginable that dowsers can do what they claim. In fact, the results showed that the dowsers would have done better had they left their rods at home and guessed in the experiments. For the complete story as published in the January 1999 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, see

For additional information on the subject, we recommend the following link:

Dowsing - Science or Humbug?