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

Andy Clayden 2018

University of Sheffield

Threshold, pathway, foci and space: A journey through two WW2 military cemeteries

This paper follows the same journey made through two WW2 military cemeteries located on the outskirts of the city of Luxembourg. These are the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial designed by the architects Keally & Patterson and landscape architect Alfred Geiffert; and the German Military Memorial Cemetery designed by the landscape architect Robert Tischler. The paper uses original plans, drawings and photographs to explore how the designers responded to very different design briefs that were inevitably shaped by their respective experience of victory and defeat. […]

Daniel Robins 2018

University of York

Disposing of ‘necro-waste’

This talk will draw on the conceptual framework underpinning my thesis, which analogises corpse materials as waste, otherwise known as ‘necro-waste’ (Olson, 2016). The thesis specifically asks ‘what is the value of “necro-waste”?’ In other words, it aims to understand how corpse materials can be recycled as the UK Death Industry develops alongside wider environmental social change. By taking a waste-orientated approach to corpse materials, the talk sets out to achieve two things. First, it will provide a comparative analysis of cremation and natural burial, […]

Ian Dungavell 2018

Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust

The problem of ‘first’: looking at the first decade of the modern cemetery

Highgate Cemetery was established by an Act of Parliament which regulated its operations. But how did they decide what should be in that Act? Was it based on earlier Acts establishing cemeteries? Tracing back to the first of such Acts, I realised that my question would remain: what did they base that one on? So my focus switched from finding the first cemetery Act to understanding how the first cemetery was governed. But which was the first cemetery? […]

Ivor F. Perry 2018

University of Durham

The Kopje-crest and the Uniform Headstone: how the South African experience influenced the creation of a cultural phenomenon

This investigation originates from a project on the inscriptions on the headstones maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Commonwealth War Cemeteries tend to be regarded as a cultural norm – even a British, or military tradition. Yet this phenomenon is not traditional, and is only British by virtue of the nationality of their founder and director, Sir Fabian Ware. His vision was in fact an international and Imperial one, and the ‘norms’ that the project produced were new both to the British Army and to the British civil polity. […]

Janine Marriott 2018

Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust/University of Hertfordshire

A Victorian cemetery as a visitor space

Cemeteries and graveyards traditionally had one main role, however during the last 40 years many have evolved from burial space to visitor space. It is now possible to watch a film, view art, take a tour or watch theatre in a place of the dead. How and why did this transition occur? Is the presence of the human remains part of the draw to these sites, or a hinderance to their new uses? Drawing from experiences working in heritage sites and current doctoral research this presentation will share one case study that shows how the change can take place. […]

Julie Rugg 2018

University of York

Consolation, individuation and consumption: towards a theory of cyclicality in English funerary practice

This paper suggests a new meta-narrative for understanding change in Westernised funerary practice over time, shifting away from the conception of dichotomised swings between periods when death was somehow hidden or problematic, and times during which death was regarded as ‘tame’, accepted and largely unproblematic. Instead, this it is proposed that funerary practice runs rather in a cyclical pattern, as innovation, gradually absorbed as a mass option, provokes new innovation. This pattern not seated within the desire for the lesser-status members of society to emulate the elite or garner ‘respectability’. […]

Michala Hulme 2018

Manchester Metropolitan University

Revisiting the Public Grave: An in-depth study into public grave burials at Manchester’s first municipal cemetery, Philips Park 1866-1870

On the 25th October 1866, the family of four-year-old Jonathan Hope walked the two miles from Ancoats to bury their youngest son. He was the first person to be interred in a public grave at Manchester’s Philips Park Cemetery. By the end of the century the percentage of people interred in a public grave at Philips Park stood at just over 87% of all recorded burials. Despite the high numbers of public grave burials in municipal cemeteries throughout Britain, […]

Pavel Grabalov 2018

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Public life among the dead: jogging in Malmö cemeteries

Urban cemeteries in the Swedish city of Malmö witness a great variety of usages, and are not just limited to commemoration practices. However, the social acceptance of nonconventional activities on cemetery sites is still debatable. This paper aims to explore jogging as one among many activities in Malmö cemeteries and to understand people’s opinions about this activity. Three urban cemeteries, differing in size, location and design were examined through three methods: observations of activities, a study of social media and an online questionnaire. […]


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