This book unravels the many different experiences, meanings and realities of natural burial. Twenty years after the first natural burial ground opened there is an opportunity to reflect on how a concept for a very different approach to caring for our dead has become a reality: new providers, new landscapes and a hybrid of new and traditional rituals. In this short time the natural burial movement has flourished. In the UK there are more than 200 sites, and the concept has travelled to North America, Holland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
This survey of natural burials draws on interviews with those involved in the natural burial process – including burial ground managers, celebrants, priests, bereaved family, funeral directors – providing a variety of viewpoints on the concept as a philosophy and landscape practice. Site surveys, design plans and case studies illustrate the challenges involved in creating a natural burial site, and a key longitudinal case study of a single site investigates the evolving nature of the practice.
Natural Burial is the first book on this subject to bring together all the groups and individuals involved in the practice, explaining the facts behind this type of burial and exploring a topic which is attracting significant media interest and an upsurge of sites internationally.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. The changing landscape of natural burial in the UK 3. Introducing the four Ethnographic sites and the motivations of providers to bury naturally 4. Designing and making the natural burial ground 5. Inhabiting and working in the natural burial ground 6. Choosing, doing and living with natural burial 6. Death care professionals: New endings, old habits? 8. The natural burial ground through time 9. Conclusion
Andy Clayden is a senior lecturer and landscape architect in the Department of Landscape, Sheffield University. His research focuses on the temporal and dynamic nature of landscape, which has had a major influence on his design teaching and how people experience and engage with the natural burial and cemetery landscape.
Trish Green is a Research Fellow at the University of Hull. Her main academic interests lie in the relational aspects of life course transitions, ageing and gendered subjectivities, and the emotional meanings of time, space and place. She has conducted research and co-authored several articles on natural burial.
Jenny Hockey trained as an anthropologist and is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Sheffield University. Widely published in Death Studies, she was founding president of the Association for the Study of Death and Society and remains a member of the editorial board of Mortality, the European Journal of Death Studies.
Mark Powell trained in social anthropology at the Queen’s University, Belfast. His research focuses on the relationship between social identity, cultural belonging and environments. Based at the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, he works across disciplines to investigate the social and cultural dimensions of hard infrastructural environments.
For those interested in natural burial or, more broadly, cultural landscapes, sacred landscapes, contested landscapes, or conservation, this book covers new ground and offers a close investigation of social and cultural motivations, and of issues of identity, memory, and sacred ground...an ambitious and insightful research contribution. - Scheri Fultineer, Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM)
This powerful study – based on sensitive, innovative research, and expertly illustrated – shows how natural burial can become a creative and contested process. Fascinating analysis of the very ground used for burial, illuminates the social, material, emotional, temporal and memorial aspects of this increasingly significant practice. Essential reading for anyone interested in death studies, anthropology, material culture, and landscape design. - Elizabeth Hallam, University of Aberdeen and University of Oxford, UK
Although there are a few publications concerning natural burial, this is the first serious study concerning landscape and practice. It is well reserached and referenced, engagingly written and with copious illustrations including many colour photographs. It is, therefore, an essential resource for anyone wanting to obtain a clear appreciation of this innovative development in funerals. - Brian Parsons, Funeral Director Monthly