Posted 20 hours ago

A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards: Scottish Non-fiction Book of the Year 2021

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In 1859, when Jules Verne visited Edinburgh, he noted that, among the city’s haute bourgeoisie, one of the most popular destinations for a Sunday afternoon stroll was around the well-maintained paths and gardens of Warriston Cemetery.

Highly recommended, this engaging book is most definitely a celebration of death and life and above all love.

Several of the bloggers and tour guides I've discovered online appear here, which I thought was particularly cool. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that we should extend the same respect we have for the dead to the living. With the loss of both my parents, I can see that by visiting these places of memorial we keep those who have passed with us, and we hear their story.

It's absolutely stunning, shimmering with beautiful writing and rich with historic detail - ancient and more modern. It is full of absolutely fascinating stories from various graveyards big and small around Britain, Ireland and beyond, in cities and towns, on tiny islands and even on mountain tops. Such care is taken to resite the remains, to identify them and to then contact living relatives, if any can be found. What made Bob Reinhardt – who lives in the US – set up Friends of Warriston Cemetery and become so obsessed with the place that he has taken around 60,000 photos of it and other Edinburgh burial grounds? The Royal Botanic Garden had opened nearby just 40 years earlier, but to the promenading mid-Victorians, taking a gentle stroll around a garden of death was a comparable attraction.While not a history of cemeteries, the book is full of interesting historical detail about the great Victorian garden cemeteries designed to replace overflowing church graveyards and thus combat the spread of typhus and cholera. I loved the story of the couple who were born on the same day as each other, married on their birthday and who died on the day they were both 80. Also, and just a personal annoyance, he misattributes what is probably the most famous words ever uttered by Mary Queen of Scots ('in my end is my beginning') to a T. All those lives lived, all those stories now forgotten, some people still remembered, most now just names on a gravestone. This is a rambling walk in a whole host of graveyards around the UK from the Victorian London graveyards to the IRA war cemey in Belfast.

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