Sweet Briar Plantation Burial Ground

The Sweet Briar Burial Ground is the largest slave cemetery on the property. Upon their death, many of the enslaved individuals were buried on the plantation, their uninscribed gravestones standing as monuments to the life, labor and death of African Americans at Sweet Briar. 

The gravestones are a combination of local fieldstones and quartz. None of the stones is inscribed, but several are carved along the top of the stone. While some stones appear to be paired head- and footstones, other graves contain no preserved markers. The cemetery contains more than 60 stones and at least 19 depressions, some of which may have been placed after emancipation. The different clusters of stones may represent family groupings. 

Research into the Sweet Briar Burial Ground helps us to understand the mortuary traditions of the enslaved African Americans and allows the community to reflect and remember their contributions. 

In spring 2018, the Black Student Alliance honored the invisible founders buried here and later that year, thanks to their efforts, the College added a sunrise walk and service at the Sweet Briar Plantation Burial Grounds to the College’s Founders’ Day activities.