Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Edinburgh Historic Graveyards to be Saved

Five of Edinburgh's historic graveyards which were added to a list of the 100 most endangered monuments in the world are now getting help. Heritage watchdogs and city council officials have formed an Historic Graveyard Trust to improve security,provide visitor trails and interpretation boards. The burial grounds within the city's World Heritage Site are said to be at risk of crumbling into disrepair. The Greyfriars,Canongate,Old and New Calton and St Cuthbert's graveyards are the final resting places of a number of world famous figures including economist Adam Smith,philospher David Hume, and poet Robert Fergusson. Fortunately many have already been transcribed by Scottish genealogists and family historians but their architectural and artistic value are equally worth preservation. 


  1. As a genealogist I am embarassed to admit that I have been to Edinburgh twice and never visited any of the cemeteries. Thank you for posting this information.

  2. Interesting that the cemeteries you name already seem to me to be quite well cared for. The overgrown and tumbling tombs down at Canonmills are terrifically atmospheric but very much at risk. If I had time on my hands, I would risk the wrath of the dealers who haunt it and do some voluntary work there clearing out the overgrowth. Another sad cemetery is in Dalry, where row upon row of headstones have been laid flat for fear of them falling on passers-by. I suppose it's a sign of our mobile world that descendents don't stay put long enough to look after the graves of their ancestors as they used to. On the positive side there's a delightful little Jewish cemetery just off Newington Road, and the tomb of the Livigston family in Brunstfield, surviving amidst the suburban sprawl which has grown up all around it.

  3. Thanks to both of you for the comments. Linda you are not alone.Hopefully the council will now market the potential here for tourism.I know that in Glasgow there are guided tours round their larger cemeteries. 'Heart of Wood' there are certainly many cemeteries in the Edinburgh suburbs which have been vandalised,neglected and even built on. Corstorphine and Comely Bank spring to mind.

  4. Maybe there's scope for a geneaology tourism project! "Voyages Round Yor Ancestors"! I went to visit my ancestors' family vault in Watford, only to discover that it and the church had been demolished in the 1960s to make way for a shopping centre.

  5. I am a sixth grader and I am working on the project: If you had the time and money, which world monument would you restore and why?
    My monument is the Edinburgh Historic Graveyards and I was wondering if you knew anything about the time period of when bodies were buried, when they stopped being buried, and why were they buried. Did they just get buried if they were famous?
    Thanks, Rebekah


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