Susan Buckham 2013

Kirkyard Consulting

Not architects of decay: the influence of cemetery management on burial landscapes

The introduction of garden cemeteries in Britain during the first half of the nineteenth century has been seen as heralding a radical change in attitudes towards burial and commemoration. By the turn of the twentieth century a new form of cemetery aesthetic, the lawn cemetery, started to emerge. Until recently, lawn cemeteries have largely been viewed as a triumph of the economy of management over cultural values and as evidence of society’s emotional disengagement with death.  This paper proposes that in order to more fully appreciate the material variety, aesthetic qualities and the evolving nature of burial landscapes a greater emphasis needs to be placed on understanding how sites were managed. A review of Scottish cemetery management will show that the layout and appearance of churchyards were also subject to widespread change over the nineteenth century, suggesting that differences between burial landscape types may be more fluid than previously acknowledged.


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