The Russian Cemetery

This information is useful if you plan on hiking to the cemetery – Across the gulch to the east, one-quarter mile above the cove, a large Russian Orthodox cross marks the site of the settlement’s cemetery. One hundred thirty-one people were buried in the cemetery during the Russian American Company’s thirty-year settlement. 

In 1990, the University of Wisconsin conducted excavations intended to locate and identify the individual Orthodox burials at the Cemetery. The names of individuals associated with specific burials are not known, although researchers have identified a lengthy list of people who died at Fort Ross and were most likely buried here. The Ross settlement was a mercantile village with many families, and there are a large number of women and children buried in the cemetery. Remains have been re-interred and given last rites by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. Artifacts, such as beads, buttons, cloth fragments, crosses and religious medallions were found in the cemetery during the restoration project.

Brief explanation of the Russian Orthodox Cross –  

 The Top Bar – The top bar is the title-board, which Pilate ordered to be hung in mockery over Christ’s head on the Cross. On this board was inscribed: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (abbreviated to the Greek initials ‘INBI’ or the Latin initials ‘INRI’ in the Western tradition).

 The Middle Bar – The middle bar is that on which the Lord’s hands were nailed.

 The Bottom Bar – The slanted bottom bar is the foot-rest.  The Cross of Christ stood for a scale of justice between the two thieves: for one of them sank into hell, (the lower end of the bar), and the other, the wise thief, ascended into heaven, because of his repentance, (the upper end).

Click here for more information on the Russian Cemetery at Fort Ross.