A Fine and Private Place: the Archaeology of Death and Burial in Post-medieval Britain and Ireland
Leicester Archaeology Monograph 22
CHERRYSON, A., CROSSLAND, Z. & TARLOW, S.
School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester (2012), 9780956017987
Only a few decades ago the post-medieval burial grounds of Britain and Ireland were routinely destroyed or damaged in the course of development without any archaeological recording having taken place. However, during the 1990s influential site reports such as the crypt clearance at Christ Church, Spitalfields in London demonstrated that the detailed archaeological study of such sites can tell us a great deal, help us to refine our own methods and capture the imagination of the wider public. Since then numerous archaeological projects have taken place in burial grounds, although it is still the case that only a relatively small number of these are published and readily accessible. Despite the publication of several important site reports in recent years, there is almost no archaeological literature which brings together the primary archaeological evidence from several sites, and nothing approaching the size or scope of this book, the first interpretative and synthetic discussion of the below-ground archaeology of death and burial in post-medieval Britain and Ireland. Chapters review the evidence for the preparation of the corpse; the coffin and other things that accompanied the corpse to the grave; the burial landscape including the different kinds of cemeteries and burial places used in the period; unusual burials (criminals, suicides, excommunicants, victims of war or shipwreck and others); and evidence of the development of scientific knowledge of the body through anatomical dissection, embalming and display. There is also a gazetteer of over 500 sites of archaeologically excavated post-medieval human burial, with references, site summaries and other details.