Death in Modern Scotland, 1855–1955

Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices

by Susan Buckham (Volume editor) Peter C. Jupp (Volume editor) Julie Rugg (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection XVI, 336 Pages


The period 1855 to 1955 was pivotal for modern Scottish death culture. Within art and literature death was a familiar companion, with its imagined presence charting the fears and expectations behind the public face of mortality. Framing new concepts of the afterlife became a task for both theologians and literary figures, both before and after the Great War. At the same time, medical and legal developments began to shift mortality into the realms of regulation and control. This interdisciplinary collection draws from the fields of art, literature, social history, religion, demography, legal history and architectural and landscape history. The essays employ a range of methodologies and materials – visual, statistical, archival and literary – to illustrate the richness of the primary sources for studying death in Scotland. They highlight a number of intersecting themes, including spirituality and the afterlife, the impact of war, materiality and the disposal of the body, providing new perspectives on how attitudes towards death have affected human behaviour on both personal and public levels, and throwing into relief some of the unique features of Scottish society.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Charts and Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Part I Death in Art and Literature
  • 1. Phoebe Anna Traquair: Angels and Changing Concepts of the Supernatural in fin-de-siècle Scotland
  • 2. Death, Mourning and Memory: Two Apocalypse Windows by Douglas Strachan
  • 3. ‘The Glen of Gloom’: The Massacre of Glencoe in Victorian Visual Culture
  • 4. Stevenson and Doyle in the Face of Death
  • 5. ‘To Die Will be an Awfully Big Adventure’: Death and J.M. Barrie
  • 6. John Buchan’s Fortieth Step
  • Part II A Century of Deaths, Scotland 1855–1955
  • 7. A Century of Deaths, Scotland 1855–1955: A View from the Civil Registers
  • 8. The Legal Status of Corpses and Cremains: When and Where Can you Steal a Dead Body?
  • 9. The Investigation of Sudden and Accidental Deaths in Mid-Victorian Scotland
  • Part III Landscapes and Buildings of Death
  • 10. Landscaping for the Dead: The Garden Cemetery Movement in Dundee and Angus
  • 11. ‘Not Architects of Decay’: The Influence of Graveyard Management on Scottish Burial Landscapes
  • 12. Designs on Death: The Architecture of Scottish Crematoria 1895–1955
  • Part IV Death and Religion
  • 13. ‘Where are our Dead?’ Changing Views of Death and the Afterlife in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Scottish Presbyterianism
  • 14. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’: Some Scottish Presbyterian Chaplains and their Responses to the Burial of the Dead during World War One
  • 15. ‘We Can do Nothing for the Dead’: The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland’s Approach to Death and Funerals
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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← xii | xiii →

Charts and Tables

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This book originated with an invitation from Professor Jay Brown, then Chair of the School of Divinity at New College at the University of Edinburgh, to Peter Jupp to become an Honorary Fellow with a brief to organise a conference on death in Scotland. The conference, entitled ‘Death in Scotland, 1855–1955: Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices’, was held at New College, 1–3 February 2013. The conference was deliberately cross-disciplinary, a policy continued in the two subsequent conferences held in 2014 and 2016. This selection of the original conference papers, subsequently revised and peer-reviewed, is a valuable contribution to the growing body of published work within Scottish death studies.

The editors wish to acknowledge the work of the 2013 conference committee: Marion Bowman, Susan Buckham, Peter Jupp, Jean Reynolds and Ronnie Scott. Professor Jay Brown, Dr Elizabeth Cumming and Rosemary Woodroffe WS were particularly helpful in recommending a number of individual speakers and subsequent authors. Committee members and the editors are grateful to the Principal of New College, Professor David Fergusson, and to the School of Divinity, the Cremation Society of Great Britain and Edinburgh Crematorium Ltd for their generous financial support of the conference and this publication. We wish to pay tribute to the anonymous peer reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments. The editors further thank Katherine Walker Brodie and Katherine Riley for specialist help, as well as Dr Lakhbir Jassal, who recommended the project to the book’s publisher, Peter Lang (Oxford). The Peter Lang team of Lucy Melville, Jasmin Allousch and Ben Goodwin have proved the most polite and constructive colleagues with whom to work.

We wish to acknowledge the wives, husbands, partners and colleagues of all our contributors and editors and especially Peter’s wife Elisabeth for her continuing support. Without their encouragement our work on the ← xv | xvi → book would have been far less pleasant, and we offer our sincere thanks to them all.

Susan Buckham, Peter Jupp and Julie Rugg

← xvi | 1 →



I’m wearin’ awa’, John


XVI, 336
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
Victorian Visual Culture The Garden Cemetery Movement Graveyard Mid-Victorian Scotland Death in Art and Literature
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. XVI, 336 pp., 12 coloured ill., 14 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Susan Buckham (Volume editor) Peter C. Jupp (Volume editor) Julie Rugg (Volume editor)

Susan Buckham is an Honorary Research Fellow in History and Politics at the University of Stirling. Drawing on twenty years of experience in graveyard recording, conservation, research and interpretation, Susan specialises in the interdisciplinary study of Scottish burial sites of the post-Reformation period. Peter C. Jupp is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity, Edinburgh University and former Chair of the Cremation Society of Great Britain. Co-founder of the journal Mortality and the International Conference on Death, Dying and Disposal, he has co-edited several books in death studies including Death Our Future (2008). He is the author of From Dust to Ashes: Cremation and the British Way of Death (2006) and co-author of Cremation in Modern Scotland (2016). Julie Rugg is Senior Research Fellow at the University of York. Her principal research interest is in the meanings attached to the places of interment. She is the author of Churchyard and Cemetery: Tradition and Modernity in Rural North Yorkshire (2013), which charts the implementation of the Burial Acts in England.


Title: Death in Modern Scotland, 1855–1955
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356 pages