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

Anna J. Fairley 2021

University of Liverpool, UK

From paper to stone: stonemasons’ illustrations and their monuments at Toxteth Park Cemetery, Liverpool

As part of a larger project researching Liverpool’s nineteenth-century cemeteries, investigations into the archives held by Liverpool City Council regarding Toxteth Park Cemetery (established in 1856) led to the discovery of some significant documents. Alongside historic plans of the cemetery, a large collection of monument illustrations was uncovered, drawn in the nineteenth-century by the cemetery’s resident masons, George Muir and Andrew Laidlaw. Over 240 illustrated papers were found, hitherto forgotten for over a century. Exploring these, […]

Brian Parsons 2021

Independent researcher

Reading the ‘Order for the Burial of the Dead.’ Investigating the role of the Cemetery Chaplain

The post of cemetery chaplain emerged in parallel with the creation of the first wave of nineteenth century proprietary cemeteries. Appointed by companies and, from the 1850s, Burial Boards their function was solely to read the burial service. At cemeteries where a large number of interments took place in common graves, a ‘public reading time’ was held where unrelated families were present for a communal reading of the burial service by the chaplain. This continued until the dramatic shift towards cremation in the post-war years effectively brought an end to such ceremonies.The repetitive nature of the chaplain’s task, […]

Francyane Karla Lopez Duarte 2021

University of Ferrara, Italy

Verticalization as an alternative solution for cemeteries: a technical visit to the Cemitério Vertical de Curitiba

The constant population growth leads to a physical expansion of urban areas, resulting in a denser built environment with the overlapping of services to support human needs. For this reason, verticalization became necessary to optimize land use and occupation in large cities, where there is a limited amount of available land for new buildings. In this context, a building typology that has been facing these issues is the cemetery because of its increasing need of land for new burials. […]

Johanna Lindroth and Kate O'Connor 2021

KTH Stockholm, Sweden

‘In the boundless realm of unending change’: planning for cemeteries in an urban context as envisioned through scenarios

Cemeteries are an integral part of the cityscape, which as a societal function are responsible for the interment of the deceased in a dignified manner. They are imbued with cultural, historical, religious and emotional significance – as a site for grief, reflection and contemplation they also have a significant physical presence in the city. Cemeteries are a somewhat hidden issue in urban planning in Sweden today, but as a land intensive development that locks the land from future reuse it is paramount that the complexity is examined. […]

Julie Rugg 2021

Cemetery Research Group, University of York

Twenty years of cemetery study and eight core questions defining cemetery research

This paper reviews cemetery publications over the last twenty years and considers current trends and new directions. In these two decades, cemetery research has included contributions from the humanities, social sciences and sciences and its international reach has expanded substantially, echoing the expansion in geographic scope of death studies. The study of cemeteries has also benefitted from a spatial turn within a number of disciplines: within death studies, conceptions of ‘deathscapes’ or ‘necroscapes’ has expanded the range of questions asked of all locations where death is encountered. […]

Lee Sulkowska 2021

Deakin University, Australia

Drama in the archives: nineteenth century colonial class conflict in St Kilda Cemetery, Australia

‘Truelove and Dear are names which would suggest a very amicable partnership, yet they are owned by a couple of St. Kilda citizens who are continually at war with one another.’ – The Age, 1903. The story of Charles Truelove and Nathaniel Dear reads like a plot arc on a television soap opera. Both were employees at the St Kilda Cemetery in Melbourne, Australia during the late nineteenth century. Dear, an independent grave decorator, loved to hate Truelove, […]

Louis Dall'aglio 2021

ENS de Lyon, France

Cemetery gentrification in the south of France : the Cimetière Marin renovation in Sète

This presentation is based on interviews and archives analysis conducted in 2019 in Sète, France, and aims at underlining the role of the burial reselling process in France in the evolution of a famous cemetery and the sociology of the person buried there. The Cimetière Marin (maritime cemetery) is a well-known cemetery in France, thanks to Paul Valéry’s poem, “Le Cimetière Marin”, and has a unique situation, as it faces the Mediterranean Sea from a hillside. […]

Natalia Campos-Martíneza and Ofelia Meza-Escobar 2021

University of Sheffield, UK

The Voice of the Dead: incorporating cognitive linguistics and bioarchaeology to explore the General Cemetery of Santiago

​​As the first urban cemetery in Chile, the General Cemetery of Santiago was conceived as a model for the new republican cemeteries, devoid from religious background and with carefully arranged distribution of the burial plots, reflecting the power relations of the society of the living. Based on the assumption that it is in fact possible to read socio-cultural and socio-economic phenomena by studying relevant artefacts on cemeteries, the researchers propose an interdisciplinary approach to the use of these spaces as investigation resources. […]

Patrick Low 2021

Independent researcher

“In one custom we are more barbarous than our ancestors in bygone days. It is the toll of the Felon’s Plot”: A study of the exhumation of executed prisoners at Newcastle Gaol

The 1925 closure of Newcastle gaol presented the local authorities with a major dilemma, namely the Home Office’s request for the proper reinterment of the bodies of 15 executed criminals. The highly secretive operation, the exact reinternment location of the remains is still unknown today, became the subject of great speculation in the local newspapers and was the cause of much local debate. Through a study of the Home Office and Prison Commission correspondence regarding the exhumations, […]


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