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

At work on a monument in Newfoundland, 2021

While I recently 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.

As a heritage consultant, I am available to research and produce reports, blog posts, social media content, and papers on historical sites, buildings, and burial grounds, as well as archaeological projects. I am eligible to hold an archaeological excavation permit in Newfoundland & Labrador, and Nova Scotia according to provincial regulations. I am experienced in assessing historic structures for heritage integrity as well as creating a development history and phasing for the property, and am familiar with provincial regulations for cultural heritage in Ontario. My main interest is burial ground conservation in Canada, and I have amply experience working with burials both historic and contemporary, above and below-ground. I am available to teach workshops on gravestone preservation and recording best practices, as well as restore community gravestones. Reach out if you are interested in working together!

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. I am currently working on my second book, with Bergahan Books, exploring the significance of apotropaic symbols (protective symbols) in mortuary contexts.

You can contact me through the ‘Contact’ page on this website, or through twitter, @Graveyard_arch

Thanks for reading!