The Graveyards and Cemeteries of Edinburgh by Charlotte Golledge is a fascinating book that will be of interest and value to anyone who's ever taken the time to wander through Edinburgh's many graveyards and cemeteries or who is interested in the history of this most intriguing and attractive of cities. In her brief introduction, the author says: "When I embarked on the exciting task of writing this book, I had not comprehended just how many of Edinburgh's dead had contributed to the modern world. The dead are not simply our past; they are also our present and future." This book is as much about the long-term residents of the graveyards and cemeteries of Scotland's capital as about the places themselves: but then that is a large part of the attraction of visiting them.
The book covers the individual histories of the graveyards of St Cuthbert's, Greyfriars Kirkyard, Canongate Kirkyard, Old Calton Burial Ground, Buccleuch Parish Church Chapel Yard, St John's Churchyard, New Calton Burial Ground, the Jewish cemeteries, East Preston Burial Ground, Warriston Cemetery, Dalry Cemetery, Dean Cemetery, Rosebank Cemetery, and the Grange and Piershill Cemetery. The story includes the notable events, burials and grave markers at each burial ground as well as the changes in how the people of Edinburgh buried their dead and mourned their loved ones over the years as the new profession of undertaker took over the role of the church for the new cemeteries. The author also unearths evidence of the lost burial grounds of Edinburgh that have been moved, built over or rediscovered. At the back are lists of all cemeteries and graveyards in Edinburgh and the surrounding area; and of notable burials for which there was no space in the main body of the work.
The author's text is nicely readable and obviously very well researched. The book is well illustrated throughout with mainly colour photographs of graveyards and cemeteries and of monuments found within them (plus the occasional lighthouse). We've wandered around more than a few graveyards or kirkyard in our time, looking at the church or monumental architecture and thinking about the people whose stories ended in these places. Perhaps the best recommendation we can give for this book is that it has broadened our horizons significantly about Edinburgh's graveyards and cemeteries and will certainly be put to practical use as we follow in the author's footsteps to some we've never visited before.