On Saturday, 01 May 2021, 17:00 – 18:00 Dr Helen Frisby and Dr Stuart Prior will present a talk as part of the April-May 2021 mini-series of lectures providing an introduction to the Church Monuments Society.
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Cemeteries are surprisingly versatile spaces: they memorialise the dead, provide consolation and recreation for the living, are home to a wide variety of wildlife – and are also places of work. Based on interviews with serving gravediggers and archival work, Dr Frisby and Dr Prior will explore what it’s really like to work in a cemetery and show how frontline cemetery staff influence every aspect of the burial of the dead, from purchase of a grave to digging out, backfilling and site maintenance, reopeners and exhumations.
Making reference to historic practices dating back to the 1870s but concentrating on the late 20th century to the present, the speakers will illustrate the sometimes challenging intersection of cemeteries as places of work with their other functions as commemorative and leisure spaces. Notable case studies will include South Bristol Cemetery, Canford, Greenbank and Arnos Vale.
Dr Stuart Prior is a Reader in Archaeological Practice at the University of Bristol. A former gravedigger, he’s previously appeared on Time Team.
Dr Helen Frisby is a historian and folklorist. Her PhD was on Victorian funerals, and she’s previously appeared on The History Channel and BBC radio.