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Burying the Dead (Hardback)

An Archaeological History of Burial Grounds, Graveyards and Cemeteries

British History Yorkshire and Humberside P&S History Archaeology Social History

By Lorraine Evans
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 32 black and white
ISBN: 9781526706676
Published: 17th November 2020

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Deep in the heart of North Yorkshire, at a place called Walkington Wold, there lies a rather unusual burial ground, an Anglo-Saxon execution cemetery. Twelve skeletons were unearthed by archaeologists, ten without skulls, later examination of the skeletons revealed that their owners were all subjected to judicial execution by decapitation, one of which required several blows.

Similar fates have befallen other wretched souls, the undignified burial of suicides - in the Middle Ages, the most profound of sins - and the desecration of their bodies, go largely unrecorded. Whilst plague pits, vast cemeteries where victims of the Black Death were tossed into the ground, their bodies festering one on top of another, are only today betraying their secrets.

Although unpalatable to some, these burial grounds are an important part of our social heritage. They have been fashioned as much by the people who founded and used them, as by the buildings, gravestones and other features which they contain. They are records of social change; the symbols engraved upon individual memorials convey a sense of inherent belief systems, as they were constructed, adapted or abandoned depending on people’s needs.

Burying the Dead explores how these attitudes, practices and beliefs about death have undergone continual change. By studying the development of society’s funerary spaces, the author will reveal how we continue to reinforce our relationships with the dead, in a constant and on-going effort to maintain a bond with them.

Approachable and interesting... I can see this appealing to a wide range of people. It deserves to do well, and I hope it does.

NetGalley, We Hae Books Blogger

Archaeological History. And this book was everything I was hoping it would be , it was well researched and written, it was a gripping read from start to finish, and while it might not be for everyone, its perfect for the ones who love this type of book. It goes into detail of the types of burial as well as the history and the author has a way of bring it to life.

NetGalley, Elizabeth Means

An interesting book all about -- you guessed it -- burying the dead. Not just a historical view of how it's changed over the centuries, but also about different situations where the dead can be buried. Water burials, more common trends now, mass pits due to plagues or genocides, etc. I thought it was a solid read on the topic.

NetGalley, Caidyn Young

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If, like me, you haven't really given much thought to burials, then this book will be a real eye-opener. "Burying the Dead" is a fascinating exploration of (as the subtitle says) burial grounds, graveyards, and cemeteries - and who knew there were so many different types? Lorraine Evans writes with a skill that gives each burial mentioned a sense of dignity and respect, which is hugely impressive. One for the reference bookshelf.

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

Fascinating look into a somewhat macabre, but deeply interesting subject. Well researched and written in lively, accessible language.

NetGalley, Tammy Buchli

Burying the Dead was a fascinating read that explored burial practices through the ages and around the world. There were some aspects I was already aware of, but I also learnt some new and interesting facts along the way. Evans managed to avoid her prose becoming too dry, the information present succinctly yet with excellent references and illustrations. This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in history and archaeology, as well as those intrigued by cemeteries and burial practices. I particularly enjoyed the wide range of examples cited, taking us from Europe to Asia and South America. 4.5 stars from me.

NetGalley, Nicki Markus

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A really well written summary of burial practice across the world and chronologically. I particularly love the section on metal boneyards, train planes and automobiles left to rot in quiet corners of the world.
This will a great introduction for the general public and those studying Anthropology and Archeology for the first time.

NetGalley, Tony Stacey

Burying the Dead is a fascinating look at the history of burial grounds throughout the world. While there was more focus on modern-day burial practices than I expected, I still found those aspects enjoyable.

Some interesting aspects of the book were the subjects of "vampire" and "witch" burials, mass burials after genocide (I had no idea they were still finding mass graves in Rwanda!), how the modern English garden cemetery was conceived, and the future of burials, including green ones.

I definitely recommend Burying the Dead for anyone interested in the past, present, and future of burials.

NetGalley, Stephanie Holland

Lorraine Evans does a great job of going through the many different burial practices and laying out why each might have been used. From grave goods to suspected vampires, you get a little of everything in this book. I absolutely LOVED this one! It was very engaging and highly enjoyable.

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating look at funerary customs throughout history and spanning multiple cultures.

I have always been interested in death/dying/funerary & burial customs so as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to give it a read. The book gives great detail and information on all kinds of burials, from Pagan, the evolution of the christian burial, to burials at sea. There's even a section giving details and history of famous/infamous/large/old graveyards and even includes some information on pet cemeteries. I especially loved the "Boneyards of Steel" chapter as I've always enjoyed visiting (when possible) or reading about vehicle graveyards. Trains, planes, tanks, warships, and automobiles also need a final resting place and I was thrilled to see a chapter dedicated to these unusual graveyards included. The appendix on graveyard symbolism was also very interesting.

Well written incredibly informative book, the photos are both morbid and beautiful, I just loved everything about this book, write one 5 times as long and I'll gladly throw my money at you for it.

NetGalley, Paula Cwikla

I've always had a fascination with archaeology, especially burial archaeology and this book was a delight. Very well researched and written, it was a gripping read from start to finish, although I will say that the writing was more on the academic side and therefore not be as accessible to everyone. However, I would say that the detail and photographs, and absolute attention to research in Burying the Dead would make it a worthwhile and rewarding read for anyone with an interest in history and archaeology, especially that of death and burial and I would wholeheartedly recommend this one and I will be grabbing a physical copy for myself.

NetGalley, Rowena Andrews

So when it comes down to burying the dead no one really thinks about the process or the ritual that the whole aspect of burying the dead had to go through. I loved all the information that this book contained! This book is really researched to a "T". The author researched many different perspectives and knew her history! I loved that she went through so many different types of burials to some that I knew of like the ship burials and then the sky burials that I literally had no inkling about it.
I also loved how she pointed out cultural aspects and religious aspects to the type of burials that occured. I loved that the author went for it, that she covered a lot of information and the book was not too lengthy. I gained a lot of insight and really enjoyed the book. I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting insight into the history and practices of burying the dead.

NetGalley, Amber Machado

This book was amazing! I have a rather weird obsession with burial rites, death, true crime and anything related to those topics. I have leant so much about burial rites, it's amazing and I am certain I can use more authentic burial methods to my own writing now as well!
A perfect book, yet some might consider its topic rather macabre but especially for Halloween, I'd consider it a Must Read.

NetGalley, James Walter

I'm glad I had the opportunity to read Burying the Dead: An Archaeological History of Burial Grounds, Graveyards and Cemeteries by Lorraine Evans. It's very well researched and put together.

NetGalley, Lauren Stoolfire

It is a fascinating book which covers an often taboo topic comprehensively. I learned a lot and found this book provides an insight into an often overlooked aspect of shared history.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

This is a fascinating investigation into how humans deal with death, from prehistory till current times, we bury, cremate or preserve the bodies of those we love and revere after they pass. An exploration into the social, religious and class structures that determine where our physical bodies go after death.

NetGalley, Rosemary Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Where to begin with this utterly gripping and thoroughly researched book? Truly. I learned so much about different cultures and rituals through burials, ancient through medieval to current times...the quality and quantity of information is mind blowing. From barrow mounds to ship burials to prostitute cemeteries to ossuaries to executions to sky burials, it's all here. And then some.

Religion plays a huge role in burial, of course. Status and class used to be as well, as evinced by what was/was not buried with the person. To this day many cannot afford to bury their dead and do otherwise. Soldiers, prisoners, lepers and people at sea need(ed) to be buried, too. Some cultures use coffins, some do not. Some religions bury, some cremate. Unfortunately, mass graves have resulted from genocide, sacrifices, plagues and war.

It may sound morbid but the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic is fascinating to see, as are the Jewish cemetery in Prague and Capuchin crypt in Rome. Many European churchyards are evocative and set in beautiful surroundings. When exploring them I always wonder what the people who were buried there were like, what they did, how they lived. The author discusses this, too, as well as evidence about how people died.

Green burials and other modern options are discussed at the end. Pore over the fascinating photographs.

Those intrigued by history, especially the history of death and burial, will be undoubtedly find this book rewarding. Though the topic may have the appearance of ghoul, the broad takeaway is learning more about people.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

About Lorraine Evans

Lorraine Evans is an Archaeologist and Death Historian, specialising in mortality symbolism, funerary architecture and deviant burials. She is a successful author of a number of books, ranging from Ancient Egypt to World War One, and has worked on countless historical documentaries. Her research skills are often in demand as is her acclaimed photographic work, which has been exhibited all over the UK. She is currently a PhD candidate at the IIPSGP and can be followed at www.lorraineevans.com or www.mortephotography.co.uk

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