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

Anna J. Fairley 2020

Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, UK

A website for St James’ Cemetery, Liverpool: demonstrating the value of material culture in the dissemination of cemetery data online

The internet provides an ideal forum to involve and engage diverse groups of people in the vast resources of historic cemeteries. A survey of existing websites dedicated to nineteenth-century cemeteries revealed that the information available is patchy and inconsistent. Most provide an overall history of the site with some information on notable burials, but insight beyond this is limited. Additionally, websites set up by volunteer groups or individuals are extremely vulnerable to being taken offline due to lack of funds. […]

Brian Parsons 2020

Independent Researcher

Following the fortunes of the Abney Park Cemetery Company

The ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries that were opened by private companies in London between 1832 and 1841 included Abney Park at Stoke Newington. The company later went on to establish cemeteries at Chingford Mount (1884) and Hendon Park (1899) followed by the acquisition of Greenford Park Cemetery in 1905. In 1922, a crematorium was opened at Hendon. By the 1950s, however, the company was divesting itself of its assets with all the four sites eventually ending up in the ownership of the local authorities in which each was situated. […]

Heather Scott 2020

University College, London, UK

‘And writing…will preserve his memory’: Laman Blanchard’s afterlife in letters and ledgers

Established in 1836 by the South Metropolitan Cemetery Company, Norwood Cemetery was the second of the garden cemeteries to open in London. The burden of continuously maintaining such expansive tracts rendered most of these enterprises insolvent within the next hundred years. Lambeth Council eventually assumed ownership of Norwood, and in the 1960s elected to clear a sizable number of the cemetery’s monuments without considering the architectural and historical legacy enshrined in that place nor the resultant obliteration of the dead’s identity. […]

Julie Rugg 2020

Cemetery Research Group, University of York, UK

Funerary heritage tourism

In many major cities, the ‘first’ nineteenth-century cemetery is often the focus of cemetery tourism, a leisure activity which has increasing infrastructure support through organisations such as the Association for Significant Cemeteries in Europe. This paper recognises ‘funerary heritage’ as an associated but separate development, which recognises the value of understanding and protecting evidence of funeral practices in the past. There can be an uneasy relationship between cemetery tourism and funerary heritage, in part resting on unwillingness directly to associate cemetery visits with death. […]

Nicholas Wheatley 2020

Cemeteries and their railway connections: what happened to John Claudius Loudon’s vision of railways transporting the dead to English cemeteries?

John Claudius Loudon, the noted cemetery designer, first mentioned the use of ‘railroads’ to transport the dead to cemeteries in 1830, at a time when public railways were only just beginning. Loudon repeats the proposal in his 1843 book On the Laying Out, Planting and Managing of Cemeteries. This paper examines the nature of Loudon’s proposal and considers it in the context of the development of out-of-town cemeteries and the virtually simultaneous development of the railway network from 1830 onwards. […]

Ole Jensen 2020

The Open University, UK

The living and the dead: exploring minority burial grounds in Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey

Brookwood Cemetery holds the highest concentration of minority burial grounds in the UK, including the first Zoroastrian burial ground established in Europe (1862), as well as a wide range of Muslim burial grounds. While previously largely undocumented, the project will work with Surrey History Centre to make the burial grounds more widely known and understood. Alongside a systematic collection of documentation, 30 volunteer-led oral history interviews will explore memories of remembrance, collective identity and belonging. This presentation will address the objectives and design of a Lottery-funded project aimed at documenting the history and continued significance of minority burial grounds in Brookwood Cemetery, […]

Sonja Kmec 2020

University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

A comparative analysis of burials in natural settings in France, Germany and Luxembourg

Contrary to the British case, burial legislation in France, Luxembourg and most German federal states does not allow for body interment outside the confines of a cemetery or churchyard. Cremated remains are, however, allowed to be buried or dispersed in a so-called natural environment according to new legal dispositions. High cremation rates alone do not provide a sufficient explanation for these changes, as the East German (GDR) example shows but urns remained at the cemeteries (Schulz, […]

Toby Pillatt 2020

University of York, UK

Discovering England’s Burial Spaces (DEBS): developing a new national database for burial ground research

Discovering England’s Burial Spaces (DEBS) was a Historic England funded project hosted by the Centre for Digital Heritage, Digital Creativity Labs and the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York, in collaboration with the Universities of Glasgow and Liverpool. We worked with community groups to develop new digital tools and resources for burial space recording, research and dissemination. One of the project’s core outputs is a new pilot national database for burial space research, […]

Veronic de Freitas 2020

Department of Archaeology, University of Durham

From spaces for the dead to dead spaces? The afterlife of two of Newcastle’s Victorian Cemeteries

Westgate Hill and St John’s cemeteries in Newcastle-upon-Tyne may possess listed status and therefore be deemed worthy of preservation by Historic England, but these Victorian cemeteries are currently undervalued by their host communities and – to various degrees – disengaged from their lives. Since, in an age of public funding cuts, local communities play increasingly important roles in the conservation of historic cemeteries, these neglected cemeteries are now in a state of disrepair, having been added to Historic England’s list of ‘heritage at risk’.This paper will endeavour to critically expose why St John’s and Westgate Hill cemeteries are failing to engage with their host communities and other potential communities of interest. […]


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