Gone, Not Forgotten: The Potter’s Field Project

“Does the road wind up-hill all the way?”  Yes, to the very end.  “Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?”   From morn to night, my friend.

“Shall I find comfort, travel sore and weak?” Of labor, you shall find the sum. “Will there be beds for me and all who seek?” Yea, beds for all who come. – Christina Rossetti

Revitalization of OCC's Potter's Field: Get Involved

It is our wish that all of our visitors find Old City Cemetery to be a place of dignity, comfort, and peace. 

Over the years, many grave markers in the potter’s field have been lost or damaged. We feel a strong sense of responsibility to preserve and maintain the graves of those buried here, and so we are partnering with the City of Lynchburg and Whitten Funeral Home, to replace all of the missing and damaged markers. 

The revitalization will include landscaping and changes to regular maintenance practices, as well as updated protocols for record keeping. All of this is to ensure that the memory of our cemetery residents is preserved in a respectful and dignified manner.

This is an investment we are proud to make: an investment in our Lynchburg community, so that our neighbors and friends are never lost to time. However, as a small, non-profit organization, we are relying on contributions from people like you to help us make these changes, and keep our cemetery beautiful and respectful for all. What is a “potter’s field”? Continue reading below.  All extra funds raised will go to support the ongoing maintenance and support of Old City Cemetery.



What is a Potter's Field?

A potter’s field, otherwise known as a common grave, is a burial place for individuals who can’t afford to pay for a burial, or whose identity is unknown. Today, localities determine who qualifies for a potter’s field burial based primarily on income. Keep reading to learn more about where the term “potter’s field” originated.

Since it’s founding in 1806, Old City Cemetery has always maintained the city’s potter’s field, or public burial ground. There are 8 known potter’s fields on our grounds, with our active potter’s field opening in 1994. This burial ground still receives burials today, and is the final resting place for many beloved individuals from our community whose family’s visit often to pay their respects. Additionally, many individuals buried here, both children and adults, passed while in custody of the state, or had no family to claim them. 

Why “Potter’s Field”?

The term potter’s field actually comes from the Bible, and specifically, from Matthew 27.

After Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and learned that Jesus had been condemned to death, his remorse led him to return the money to the high priests. However, the priests could not return the money to the church coffers, because the law would not allow the church to benefit from blood money. Instead, they used the coins to purchase a field, called the potter’s field, for the purpose of burying the poor and unknown. Historians and scholars believe that the field was available for cheap because it had been used by a potter to harvest clay, and as such, was no longer valuable for farming or development.


When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 
10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”[a]

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