In Loving Memory An Appreciation of Edinburgh’s Graveyards and Cemeteries by Lisa Sibbald is an informative book by a self-confessed taphophile (a lover of graveyards and cemeteries), and through these pages we get a gentle, but absorbing introduction into a subject that many of us seem to share an interest in too. How many of us reading this review also enjoy walking around graveyards and cemeteries?
It is often assumed that when we die, we are now silent, no longer speaking about who we were in life, or our beliefs whilst alive, but for those buried in a graveyard or cemetery (the two can be different as we find out in this book) this is far from the case as how we are buried, what type of gravestone or grave marker we have, and the symbolism of both can speak much about us when we are long gone from this life.
In Loving Memory is a book that not only gives us a timeline of Edinburgh’s graveyards and cemeteries, but through well illustrated chapters, a visual reference to understand the symbolism of not only the monumental art of gravestones/markers, but the often obscure and coded symbolism carved upon them, from the “memento mori” of older times to the often lavish Victorian period and later into the 20th century.
Every gravestone/marker tells its own story, and although some famous names are in this book, the author has also given a voice to “ordinary people”, letting their stories be told from beyond their graves.
With this book in your hand as a guide, your walks around Edinburgh’s graveyards and cemeteries will now often take on a new meaning as you will be able to read not only the obvious inscriptions, but start to decode the very symbolism surrounding death and the after-life.
In Loving Memory - An Appreciation of Edinburgh's Graveyards & Cemeteries now available.
A5 softback, 120 pages, with nearly 200 photographs.
£15 plus postage (£2.00 UK)
Review by Tom King (c) 2020