Necropolis: London and Its Dead by Catharine Arnold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
London is basically built on layer upon layer of graves. The book opens with the Bronze Age tumulus on Parliament Hill, which the author calls one of the oldest burial grounds in the city, predating Highgate Cemetery by over 4000 years. I would have liked to hear much more about the earliest burials in the area.
And I would have liked to read more about the Roman-era graves as well. I was thoroughly fascinated by the earliest chapters of this book, since those are the times I am the least familiar with.
The book really grabbed me when it explored the plague pits of the medieval Black Death. I hadn’t realized that the Danse Macabre (or Machabray) had ever come to England from the continent. I could have read much more about those centuries, although so little seems to be left above ground to mark them.
The Tudor chapters were fascinating, but things started to slow down for me after that, as the author got into material I knew better. If you are newer to the study of all things dead in London, you might find this crucial material. For me, the pace dragged.
There were highlights, though. I loved to read about Shelley and Keats in Highgate Village, before the cemetery was built. I’m fascinated by the work of Isabella Holmes, previously unknown to me. She visited every surviving graveyard in London, in hopes of closing them down and converting them to parks. I’m going to have to track down her reports. And the chapter about the fight to legalize cremation gave me insight into another subject I don’t know enough about.
All in all, this is a very readable book, full of intriguing tidbits and lots of food for thought. However, I wish each chapter had a map to display the locations of the places she talks about — or better yet, transparent maps so you could overlay them as see how deep the bodies go.
Where would you like to go?
Copyright information© Loren Rhoads & Cemetery Travel, 2011-23. Unauthorized use or duplication of this material -- either photos or text -- without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Cemetery Travel with a link to the original content. Questions? Use the Contact Me tab in the navigation bar above.
- 576,519 hits
Sign up for my mailing list!Click here to sign up for my monthly mailing list, which will keep you up to date on my speaking schedule and upcoming projects. As a thank you, you'll receive "4Elements," a short ebook that showcases one of my favorite cemetery essays, a travel essay, and two short stories, spanning from urban fantasy to science fiction.
Follow this blog via Email:Join 4,235 other subscribers
Top Posts & Pages
- Marking Fred Gwynne's Unmarked Grave with Flowers
- Cemetery of the Week #95: Dodge City’s Boot Hill
- Cemetery of the Week #173: the Crypt of Our Lady of the Angels
- Resting Places of Horror Film Icons, Part Two
- Cemetery of the Week #175: Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula
- 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die
- Cemetery of the Week #50: Gravesite of Sojourner Truth
- Cemetery of the Week #113: Grave of Robert Louis Stevenson
- Cemetery of the Week #46: the Martin Luther King Jr. gravesite
- Cemetery of the Week #133: Mare Island Cemetery
Cemetery Travel catagories
- 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die
- Cemetery blogs
- Cemetery book review
- Cemetery essay
- Cemetery event
- Cemetery how-to
- Cemetery interview
- Cemetery movie review
- Cemetery of the Week
- Cemetery poll
- Cemetery postcard
- Cemetery snapshots
- Church burial
- Deaths Garden Revisited
- Facebook Cemetery Group
- Famous person grave
- Good cemetery news
- Museum show
- Photo Challenges
- Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area
- Travel query
- Wish You Were Here