Dr Myra Giesen

Education, Communication, & Language Sciences, Newcastle University

My professional journey, rooted in cultural and heritage resource management, anthropology, and perception studies, equips me with a distinct blend of expertise for my current research interest in the Ballast Hills Burial Ground (BHBG) project. With a career dedicated to preserving and interpreting our collective past, I have mastered the balance between heritage conservation and contemporary relevance, transforming historical resources into engaging educational materials and interpretive panels. Specialising in human osteology and mortuary archaeology, I have explored past cultures’ lives, deaths, and customs. My experience with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act compliance has grounded me in diverse worldviews and desires related to death, dying, and burial. This foundation drives my commitment to inclusive stakeholder engagement, ensuring that cultural heritage initiatives resonate with diverse communities. The BHBG project exemplifies this commitment. Nestled in Newcastle’s Ouseburn valley, this historic non-conformist burial ground, active from the early 1600s to 1853, now serves as a green communal space, since its transformation into a park in 1930. Surprisingly, the site’s rich history remains underexplored. Our project, led by Newcastle University in collaboration with local partners, aims to resurrect BHBG’s historical significance through archival research, archaeology, and robust community engagement. Funded by multiple sources, including internal Newcastle University funds and recently an Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Curiosity Award, our goals are to enhance resource accessibility, engage stakeholders, and uncover BHBG’s historical significance. By fostering public participation and forming a ‘Friends’ group, we aim to ensure the site’s preservation and enrich its cultural tapestry.

Giesen, M.J. (ed.) (2013) Curating Human Remains: Caring for The Dead in the United Kingdom (Vol. 11), Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

Giesen, M.J. (2023) ‘Human remains’, in F. Mairesse (ed.) ICOM Dictionary of Museology, International Council of Museums, London: Routledge, 227-229.

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