This list includes abstracts from the Colloquium since 2005. Papers from the Virtual Colloquium held in November 2023 are marked [v].

Hannah Rumble 2010

New scenes for the dead: Natural burial sites and their distinguishing sovereignty

This paper is concerned with identifying if there are distinctions between natural burial sites and other more familiar, ‘traditional’ burial places using the case study woodland burial ground of my doctoral research. This particular site is consecrated and affiliated to the Church of England. The provider’s aim is to establish a deciduous native woodland, hence why the site is referred to as a ‘woodland’ burial ground. On the one hand the legal aspects of this provision make the site similar to a churchyard, […]

Julie Rugg 2010

University of York, UK

The cemetery in the countryside: continuity and modernity

Theoretical debate on cemeteries generally relates to one of two discourses: that cemeteries demonstrated the hold of middle-class ideals on the construction of urban environments, where even in the realms of death the expression of status and class were a central concern; and that the cemetery was essentially a modern phenomenon that displaced and marginalized the dead, so reflecting a profound societal unease with evidence of mortality. These models position the cemetery very firmly in the context of the nineteenth-century city, […]

Lennie Kellaher and David Lambert 2010

The Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University, UK/The Parks Agency, UK

The significance of an historic cemetery site to local sets of interest

Cemeteries are frequently sites of contestation. Grave owners and cemetery managers; clergy and the public; interest groups and mourners; ‘romantics/conservationists’ and ‘tidiers’; new and traditional user groups – to cite a few of the groups that can sometimes find themselves in opposition. The living and the dead rarely seem to be pitched in battle, though ‘ the liminal power of the mourner’ (Turner, 1969) sometimes seems to invoke the dead to render the living more powerful or dominant in contest. […]

Nicola Rees 2010

The labyrinthine law of disposal of the dead: the complications, the complexities and the convention

This paper presents ongoing PhD research examining the legal framework, rules and regulations of the Church of England relating to disposal of the dead with some comparison with state regulation. The paper reviews the roles of the PCC and incumbent as regulators and policy makers in the churchyard. A key point in the research is establishing the functional public authority status of the PCC for s6(3)(b) and 6(5) Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) (contra to finding of House of Lords in Wallbank litigation) by reference to the on-going case law usually linked to social housing and care homes for the elderly, […]

Susan Buckham 2010

Delusions of grandeur? The influence of civic pride, private sentiment and business practice upon the cemetery landscape at York

This paper offers a case study of burial and commemoration at York Cemetery from 1837 to 1901. The cultural significance of cemeteries is embodied by their design as a specific form of burial landscape and by their use as an arena to express social relationships as signified by the selection of a burial plot, funeral service, memorial and inscription and by visits to the gravesite. York Cemetery’s own unique history was embedded within the nationwide – indeed international – movement to establish modern cemeteries. […]


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract