The Human Remains: Digital Library of British Mortuary Science and Investigation

This project, headed by Ruth Nugent and funded through a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship has a number of linked aims.

  • To examine the history of exhumation, investigation, reburial, and recording of human remains buried in Christian contexts from the 7th-19th centuries and advance our understanding of this practice in Britain.
  • To create an open access digital library of texts, images, and records of human remains that have been moved and examined in church contexts.
  • To analyse the contents of the digital library using tools and methods from Digital Humanities, to understand what different groups of people in different periods of the past have thought about, felt about, believed about, practiced, and justified exhuming the ‘ancient’ dead’.
  • To use this new knowledge in service of those managing, excavating, educating, and promoting historic sites with Christian and Christian-era burials through collaboration and partnerships at a variety of scales, including the project residency scheme
  • To establish a cross-sector network of individuals and organisations involved with the management and study of historic burials in Christian contexts (The Human Remains Collaboratory) around the world.
  • To connect and collaborate with other researchers, research projects, and those involved with managing historic burials in Christian contexts around the world.
  • To share this new knowledge with academic, professional, and public audiences through Project conferences, events, and exhibitions, as well as publishing results in open-access peer-reviewed books and journals, and through popular publications and online venues
  • To lay the groundwork for a research centre dedicated to the study and impact of ‘Historic Mortuary Management and Investigation’.
  • To create new and reproduceable models, pipelines, and tools for use in Natural Language Processing, Corpus Linguistics, Machine Learning (etc.) which can be shared with developers and researchers within and beyond academia.
  • To advance the methodologies and technological innovation of Digital Humanities and Computer Science for national and global benefit.

The project team includes Ruth Nugent as PI, James Butler, Glenn Cahilly-Bretzin, Katherine Foster, and Thomas Fitzgerald.