Spade & the Grave

death and burial through an archaeological lens

CBC Article: This archeologist has made it her life’s work to preserve decaying history in N.L.’s cemeteries

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A handful of weeks ago, before the latest alert level 5 lockdown here in Newfoundland, I had the opportunity to meet with CBC contributor Andie Bulman to discuss my PhD research and our new little business, Black Cat Cemetery Preservation. It was wonderful to chat with her, and as any research knows, I loved the opportunity to talk about my research!

The article, which opens with an image of me working at Woodland Cemetery in London, Ontario in 2019, discusses my PhD research on burial grounds, concerns with gravestone conservation, and what we hope to accomplish with our (mine and my husband Ian’s) business. It’s a wonderful platform that I am so grateful to have, and I hope the message gets spread far and wide!

“Archeology, by its very nature, can be destructive. Contemporary archeology strives to be less invasive, so my aim is to teach people how to preserve these stones and spaces while doing as little damage as possible

Andie also spoke to my friend and colleague Katie Crane, a PhD student in Folklore at MUN. The above photo (right) was taken by Katie at Harbour Grave, and shows a cast-iron ledger, which shows an amazing level of detail! I can’t wait to go see that one for myself.

“I’m hoping to look at historic cemeteries in Newfoundland and Labrador and what I’m calling right now the ‘heritagization’ of them,” said Crane. “I’m interested in studying how cemeteries are becoming sites of personal memorialization and increasingly as sites of community heritage and idealized pasts.

Katie’s work as a folklorist had lead her to running workshops to teach community groups how to use digital recording tools such as BillionGraves to record gravestone inscriptions, locations, and photos. By doing this, anyone can help preserve the history in their own backyard without impacting the preservation of the site. By helping people learn about and appreciate the history around them, we have a better shot at retaining it for future generations, and installing an appreciation for the past in those who might not have realized it.

To read the full article please click the article title here: “This archeologist has made it her life’s work to preserve decaying history in N.L.’s cemeteries

Next week, we will be meeting (virtually of course, we’re still in lockdown-town) to begin planning for a project which is tentatively titled ‘Memento Mori NL’, a colloquium and eventually festival celebrating death and dying research, art, and cultural movement. Stay tuned for more information!

Author: Robyn S. Lacy

Archaeologist / Cultural Heritage / Burial Ground Restoration

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