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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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List of Tables


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Table 3.1. Burials at Coupar Angus in the documentary record up to c.1300.

Table 3.2. Information contained in ‘the coppy of the tabill quhilk ves at Cowper of al the erles of Erroll quhilk ver buryd in the abbey kirk thair’ (in order listed).

Table 8.1. Table of Cases. The Six Capitally Condemned Malefactors who Circumvented State-sanctioned Public Death Between 1752 and 1826.

Table 10.1. Numbers of Students and Bodies Dissected at Aberdeen Medical School 1880–1893.

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