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Cemeteries, churchyards and burial grounds: devising and applying a significance framework

Front cover for Cemeteries, churchyards and burial grounds: devising and applying a significance framework

Project 6357 Final report

By Julie Rugg (Ed), Janette Ray, Sarah Rutherford, Louise Loe, Jill Hind, Klara Spandl

Burial places have substantial significance, and are often the only evidence for cultures that would otherwise be forgotten. In England, burial evidence dates back to the Neolithic period. Over time, changing funerary practices have left a rich heritage of burial sites as a distinguishable heritage asset. This asset type is not always well understood and this lack of understanding has led to difficulties in explaining the significance of such places.

This report presents findings from a project that that has aimed to create a method for assessing significance that can be applied across all types of burial site from the Neolithic period to the present day.

Types of burial site covered include:

  • Prehistoric "Deep Time" barrows
  • Churches and churchyards
  • Denominational burial grounds
  • Institutional burial grounds
  • Cemeteries
  • Crematoria
  • Woodland burial schemes
  • Battlegrounds
  • Mausolea

There are 29 cases studies of these types showing how the indicators of significance devised by the project could be applied.

A team made up of researchers from the University of York and Oxford Archaeology carried out the project and produced this report. The views expressed may not all be shared by Historic England.

Where the report refers to the work of the former English Heritage, Historic England now carries out those functions.

The project was originally commissioned as part of wider work on understanding the significance of cemeteries within the National Heritage Protection Plan 2011-2015.


Executive Summary
1. Introduction
PART ONE: Towards a significance framework
2. Classifying burial space
3. Assessing significance
PART TWO: Applying the significance framework
4. The contribution of the HER to the significance method
5. Assessing the 'spirit of place'
6. Assessment of indicators in practice
7. Summary analysis and revised indicators
A1  Reading death in the landscape
A2  Case studies
A3  Recommendations for further historic evaluation

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 442


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