The date of establishing the Jewish cemetery in Chęciny (Chentshin) is unknown. There is no doubt, however, that it did exist as early as the mid-17th century, as evidenced by the 1660 royal census, which stated that Jews in Chęciny already had a privilege of owning a burial site - "kierchow". Another indication of the cemetery appeared in 1668, when the starosta of Chęciny, Stefan Bidziński, decided among other things that: "The Jews shall retain all the rights and decrees serving the purpose of the synagogue and the cemetery, which they have been used to have and which have been issued to them by gracious kings".
The necropolis is located outside of the town, on the south-east slope of the castle hill. Its location can be found on the military map of the Chęciny region from 1929. The cemetery is also marked on the present-day street plans of the town. It can be reached from Radkowska Street, after passing no. 37 house; a forest track is visible. Follow it for about 100 meters then take the first path on the right and walk up to the top of the hill, where several meters from below a sports field can be noticed. The cemetery is located across the left side of the hill. A steep, short path leads to it. The necropolis can also be accessed by the lane running behind St. Bartłomiej Church - in this case however, after reaching the hilltop you should head for the left side.
More than 200 tombstones have been preserved within the burial grounds in Chęciny until the present time. It is difficult to give the exact number of tombs due to lush vegetation. As a result of the damages caused by World War II, the gravestones have survived in a relatively small area. As the locals report, a part of the cemetery area was taken over and completely devastated by one of the local militiamen. In view of this information, a remark made by the historian Meir Balaban in his book "Jewish Historic Monuments in Poland" published in 1929, is no longer valid: "A huge cemetery on the slopes of the castle hill, at the foot of the ruins of queen Bona's castle. Just a brief glance at the cemetery is enough to realize, that it is too extensive for the small Chęciny Jewish community. It must have been a collective cemetery comprising several other communities, in particular the community in Kielce, which was granted the privilege not to tolerate Jews (de non tolerandis Judaeis). At present, it is hard to reconstruct the old boundaries of the necropolis. The remains of the ancient, stony wall which had formerly surrounded the necropolis can still be found among the shrubbery.
During World War II, the cemetery provided a hiding place for Guta Szynowłoga-Trokenheim, who described her memories of the occupation in a book titled "Life in a Tomb". The following quotations refer to the necropolis itself:
"I've spotted different colours of the headstones: white, grey and brownish. Some of them have almost completely sunk down into the ground. The others have bent down like human beings".
"Grandfather has fetched wood from the cemetery. (....) Wood from a gravestone - he said, looking at me. (....) - In the bygone eras people used to make graves of wood. They began to use stone later on. This cemetery has functioned for over 400 hundred years. There had been plenty of wooden gravestones here, but the peasants pulled down many of them for fuel".
"People also come and take the stones for renovating pavements, they break the graves and take what they need. I tremble at the very thought of such profanity. Why can't they do this elsewhere?"
The surviving tombstones are typical matzevot carved of local coloured conglomerates, known as "Chęciny marble". They are in the form of vertical stone slabs with triangular, semi-circular or square tops. There is fineness about the epitaphs engraved on some of the headstones that cannot be overlooked. There is so much delicacy about the flat, shallow lettering that it is almost indistinguishable from computer font. A number of tombstones are adorned with laboriously chiseled, raised-out inscriptions. It is noteworthy that matzevas made in Chęciny were supplied to numerous other localities. A note from the book "The Jewish cemetery in Lesko" by Andrzej Trzciński and Marcin Wodziński gives an interesting account of this: "Manufactured in the workshops near the local quarries, the quality, Renaissance style Jewish tombstones were exported to even far-removed places. Gravestones from Chęciny's marble - identical to those in Chęciny - were common throughout the whole of the 17th century in the Lublin Jewish cemetery, (..) rarely did they occur in Cracow, a single instance from 1719 was found in Sieniawa". The placement of matzevot is puzzling. Orientation prevails only in case of several stone slabs in the eastern area of the cemetery, the remaining part of the slabs face toward north-west. Most of the matzevot seem to have retained their original position and were not dislocated. One may also notice an outline of row arrangement of the headstones. They show no traces of polychrome which had formerly been applied to them. In his book "Jewish traces in Kielce and Radom Provinces", Adam Penkalla estimates that the oldest matzevot in Chęciny date back to the mid-17th century. The majority of headstones commemorate those who died in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.