Spade & the Grave

death and burial through an archaeological lens


Spade & the Grave is a place to explore the topics of death / dying / burial through the lens of archaeology. Archaeologists are faced with human mortality regularly through research, excavation, and often face to face encounters with the dead. As a result, this connection seems only natural.

I’m Robyn Lacy, an archaeologist, death scholar, archaeological illustrator, burial ground conservator, and heritage consultant. I am a PhD Candidate at Memorial University of Newfoundland, researching burial landscapes and community burial organization in 17th-century North America.

While I have worked with built heritage, heritage landscapes, and cultural resource management archaeology (CRM), my primary academic research area is historical mortuary / landscape archaeology. I am particularly interested in aspects of burial landscape development, winter burial practices, protective marks, gravestone inscription development, as well as the use of lime in heritage structures. I also run Black Cat Cemetery Preservation with my husband, Ian, our small business where we repair and conserve historic gravestones.

I received my MA in Archaeology with Distinction from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2017, where my research focused on examining the spatial relationship between early 17th-century colonial burial grounds and settlements. I hold a BA in Archaeology with a minor in Museum & Heritage Studies from the University of Calgary, and spent one year of my undergrad studying British Archaeology at Durham University in England.

I frequently publish my work through peer-reviewed journals and texts, community/organization journals, and here on Spade & the Grave. If you are interested in having me speak on your podcast or youtube channel, please get in touch!

My first book, Burial and Death in Colonial North America: Exploring Interment Practices and Landscapes in 17th-century British Settlements“, with Emerald Publishers Ltd., is based on the work conducted during my Masters research on 17th century burial grounds and landscapes in colonial British settlements in North America. My second book is currently in post-review editing, and will be published in 2024 with Bergahan Books. This volume exploring the significance of apotropaic symbols (protective symbols) in mortuary contexts.

Outside of heritage, I enjoy traveling and camping with my husband, painting, reading (I love biographies about late C19th/early C20th paintings, and feminist retellings of mythologies), trip planning, playing with my cats, and playing cozy games and board games! I’m currently trying to perfect egg fried rice and working on my paintings.

You can reach me through the ‘Contact’ page on this website, and on twitter @graveyard_arch

Thanks for reading!