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

Andy Clayden 2016

Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield, UK

The design of American Military Cemeteries of the Second World War

At the end of the Second World War the next of kin of American service men and woman who had been killed during the conflict, had a choice to either have the body repatriated or for the remains to be permanently interred in one of 14 Military Cemeteries and Memorials that would be created by the American Battle and Monuments Commission (ABMC). This paper draws on the memoirs of Major General Thomas North who in 1946 was appointed by General Eisenhower as Secretary of the ABMC with responsibility of overseeing the development of these new military cemeteries.  […]

Anna-Katharine Balonier 2016

University of Liverpool

The space of the German cemetery in today’s consumer culture

This research explores the space of the cemetery and the importance of its role within today’s consumer culture in Germany. It acknowledges the cemetery as a heterotopia (Foucault, 1967/1984) – a material site which embodies a multiplicity of meanings that attach to a range of functions beyond “the disposal of human remains” (Rugg, 2000:260). Previous research has identified cemeteries as spaces of connectedness (Francis et al., 2000), of re-negotiation of the deceased’s identity (Francis et al., […]

Brian Parsons 2016

Independent researcher

A tale of two cemeteries: securing new burial space in London during the interwar period

The expansion of London during the early part of the nineteenth century prompted the opening of the first wave of proprietary cemeteries such as Kensal Green, Highgate and Abney Park. These were followed by Burial Board cemeteries established under the Burial Acts 1852 and 1853, along with a further raft of private burial grounds in the 1870s. However, after intensive usage for around sixty to seventy years it would be the interwar period when a third wave would emerge as burial grounds were nearing capacity; […]

C R Fenn 2016

MA Victorian Studies, Birkbeck University, UK

The economics of Victorian private cemeteries – planned to fail?

Britain holds many early Victorian burial grounds that were built as a private speculation to house the dead of the growing and modernising cities. To mention them today is to conjure up images of un-maintained memorials falling into decay and submerged in undergrowth, while the site is neglected and bankrupt. A commonly-accepted wisdom is that this state came about as a result of a fundamentally-flawed business model. This argument assumes that the success of a privately-run cemetery was premised on a continuous supply of virgin land, […]

Harold Mytum 2016

University of Liverpool, UK

Parramatta St John’s Cemetery: A Colonial response to burial management?

Detailed study of the St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, New South Wales, reveals the rapid development of a regulated system of interment in a defined burial ground physically separated from the church. This is in sharp contrast to the first burial grounds in Sydney, now built over, which continued the British tradition of interment around Anglican places of worship and a pattern of overcrowding. Sydney was founded in early 1788, with Parramatta following by the end of that year as a farming centre. […]

Ian Dungavell 2016

Chief Executive, Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, London, UK

The cemetery guidebook and the cemetery visitor

Many people today imagine that cemetery tourism is a new phenomenon, part of the ‘heritage industry’. But some nineteenth-century cemeteries were intended as tourist attractions right from their earliest days, not just as places for the bereaved to mourn. Visitors would be improved by reading epitaphs, admiring the art of the memorials, and escaping the noise and pollution of the metropolis. Guidebooks were published and some cemeteries became so popular that ways had to be found to keep visitors out. […]

Peter Jupp 2016

Independent Researcher

The National Association of Cemetery Superintendents in Scotland

The National Association of Cemetery Superintendents (NACS) was founded in 1913 as a professional association to improve British cemetery facilities, benefit bereaved families and advance the training, quality and recruitment of cemetery managers. With the increase in provision of local authority crematoria, the NACS changed its title to the National Association of Cemetery and Crematorium Superintendents in 1932. (Its current title the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.) Whilst the NACCS was organised regionally as well as nationally, […]

Stuart Prior and Helen Frisby 2016

University of Bristol, UK

Grave concerns: the role, place and reflections of the gravedigger in disposal of the dead

Cemetery literature to date has consistently overlooked the importance of gravediggers, which is surprising considering that their activities mediate and shape many aspects of funerary history and archaeology. Full-body burial has been the preferred mode of disposal of the dead in the British Isles from at least the introduction of Christianity in the seventh century AD, up to the mid-twentieth century. Yet we know virtually nothing about gravedigging practice. Since the 1980s, the process of gravedigging has become increasingly mechanized, […]

Thomas Kolnberger and Christoph Streb 2016

University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Cemeteries in Luxembourg: An introduction to a border region

The University of Luxembourg’s research project titled “Material Culture and Spaces of Remembrance”, co-funded by the FNR (National Research Fund), focuses on the spatial and material attributes of graves in Luxembourg’s Greater Region (Luxembourg and its neighbouring country regions and provinces of Germany, Belgium and France). The project is three-pronged focusing on (1) data gathering and spatial analysis, (2) history and (3) qualitative social research. As the project is in its initial phase, we want to outline the “necrogeography” of a small nation state and to present preliminary results and research question in context of our project.


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