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Death in Scotland

Chapters From the Twelfth Century to the Twenty-First


Peter C. Jupp and Hilary J. Grainger

For the past twenty years, Scottish death culture has emerged as a focus of scholars drawn from a wide variety of disciplines. Death comes to us all but too often we treat it as a private or personal matter. The former taboo about death is slowly lifting and contemporary research is playing an increasing part. Accordingly, the fifteen essays gathered in this book probe the multi-facetted role of death in Scottish history and culture. They explore personal fears of death, anxieties about Predestination, prayers for the dead and the appeal of Spiritualism. They analyse the public face of death in law, economics and medicine: changes in capital punishment, funeral poverty, the teaching of anatomy and prevention of stillbirths. Within the worlds of religion and ritual, they consider the making of saints, burial practice following the Scottish Reformation and the tradition of keening within the Gáidhealtachd. With an Introduction by Professor Jane Dawson, these essays by specialists in the field not only highlight the richness of the primary sources for studying death in Scotland but reveal how death studies identify key features of Scottish life and society across ten centuries.

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Notes on Contributors


RACHEL BENNETT is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include capital punishment and the posthumous treatment of the criminal body in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. She published her monograph Capital Punishment and the Criminal Corpse in Scotland, 1740–1834 with Palgrave in 2018. Her current research focuses on health and medicine in women’s prisons since 1850.

IAN CAMPBELL retired in 2009 from the chair of Scottish and Victorian Literature at the University of Edinburgh, where he has worked since 1964, with visiting appointments in Canada, USA, China, and in Europe. He remains Emeritus Professor and Teaching Fellow. He is one of the senior editors of the Duke-Edinburgh edition of The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle (47 volumes to date, Duke University Press).

GLENYS CASWELL, PhD, is a senior research fellow at Nottingham Centre for the Advancement of Research into Supportive Palliative and End of Life Care, University of Nottingham, UK. She is a sociologist whose research interests centre upon the social management of dying and death, with a particular focus on the notion of the good death, and the role that accompaniment of the dying person plays in its achievement.

JANE DAWSON is the John Laing Professor Emerita of Reformation History at the University of Edinburgh. Her recent books include Scotland Re-formed, 1488–1587 (Edinburgh, 2007) and John Knox (London, 2015) and she directed the AHRC-funded Wode Psalter Project and its various ‘Singing...

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