Spade & the Grave

death and burial through an archaeological lens


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The Old Durham Cemetery: Exploring the early 18th-century

For Easter holiday this year, we had the fortune of traveling to Connecticut to visit my partner’s family, eat a lot of chocolate, and (of course) explore some historic burial grounds. Since this was a short trip we only made it to two, and today I’d like to take you on a little tour of the Old Durham Cemetery in Durham, CT, which opened in 1700!

The modern name of the site includes the word ‘cemetery’ but as you may already know, that term wasn’t utilized in North America until the 1830s, so I’ll continue this post referring to it as a ‘burial ground’ unless using the site’s name.¬†xxx20190421_103722 Continue reading


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‘Guilford’s Town Greene’ – a vanished 17th-century burial landscape in Connecticut

The alternate title to this post is: ‘Guilford’s Town Greene’ – The burial ground that if you give me a moment, I will never stop talking about’. If you’ve heard me speak at a conference or lecture, or…ever… you’ve probably heard me use it an an example of a curious burial landscape, one that has seen endless change, interaction, and ultimately erasure. It’s a very interesting case study in the changing views of death in Western society as well, so if you’re here for the modern death aspect, read on!
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Medieval Graffiti in a (historic) New England Context

That title should also have the word ‘mortuary’ in it somewhere, but you probably guessed that’s where I’m going with this! Today I wanted to talk about above-ground material culture relating to historic burials. More specifically, about the classic gravestones of colonial New England and symbology that appears with some regularity throughout the region that display an iteration of several¬†compass-drawn symbol often found in medieval churches and on items of furniture in the British Isles.

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Ye Antientist Burial Ground’, 1652~, New London, Connecticut. Photo by author, 2015

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