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

Brian Parsons 2012

University of Bath, UK

Robertson at the City: portrait of a cemetery superintendent

The origins of the superintendent can be traced back to the establishment of proprietary cemeteries in the mid-nineteenth century. Responsible for day-to-day operations including supervision of grave preparation and routine maintenance along with administration and staffing, the remit has gained complexity through increased bureaucratisation and legislation, the preference for cremation and more recently from customer focus and centralisation of the service. Whilst the contemporary function has been comparatively well documented, little has been written about the development of the occupation in the early twentieth century. […]

Gaelle Jolly 2012

University of Bath, UK

The management of historic cemeteries by friends’ groups

Many historic cemeteries have only escaped from clearance or dereliction because of campaigns and direct management by friends’ groups. Despite a growing interest in cemeteries among conservation professionals in recent years, the involvement of local groups remains crucial, particularly for cemeteries of local rather than national interest. There has however been little examination of the factors behind the involvement of friends’ groups and the resulting impact of their work on cemetery character. Historic cemeteries are rich in meaning and local value, […]

Gian Luca Amadei 2012

University of Kent, UK

The cemetery as machine

The advent of the Industrial Revolution in the second part of the eighteenth-century England was fuelled by the invention of mechanical devices such as the hydraulic pump.  The adoption of this machine had a fundamental impact in trade, commerce as well as transport. Its influence eventually reached out to unusual applications such as that of the catafalque – a mechanical device based on the principle of the hydraulic pump – which became a fashionable feature in nineteenth-century Victorian necropolises. […]

Julie Rugg 2012

University of York, UK

‘Casting into the great crucible of the present ferment all manner of time-honoured traditions’: burial legislation at the turn of the twentieth century

The first of the Burial Acts were introduced in the 1850s, and discussion of this legislation generally focuses on the mid-century period. However, it is arguably the case that the most radical of the Burial Acts was the penultimate Act, passed in 1900. This Act – unlike earlier Burial Acts – did not favour the interests of the Church of England and was decidedly secular in tone. Rather than presuming that each cemetery would be consecrated, […]

Matthew Potter and Maura Cronin 2012

Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Republic of Ireland

A co-operative project in cemetery research: Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery, Limerick City 1855-2010

This paper examines a project on-going at Mary Immaculate College Limerick since 2010. Exploring the place of Mount St Lawrence Cemetery in life of Limerick city (1855 to the present), the project has four distinguishing features: (a) It involves co-operation between a third level institution, a municipal authority, and local communities; (b) It brings together seasoned and novice researchers – faculty, postgraduates and undergraduates and (c) It combines research in contemporary documentary sources, digitisation of the cemetery registers, […]

Susan Buckham 2012

Kirkyard Consulting

The Edinburgh Graveyards Project

The Edinburgh Graveyards Project encompasses the three kirkyards of St Cuthbert’s, Greyfriars and Canongate and the two burial grounds of Calton Old and Calton New. The Project draws together existing information on these sites and develops this knowledge through new research linked to the following aims: to develop a body of knowledge relating to the graveyards that will help to improve our understanding and valorisation of the graveyards; to assess the current patterns of ‘use’ of the five graveyards and the potential for positive improvement; […]


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