Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article

 

Help at hand for Edinburgh’s historic burial grounds

A new post is to be created to address the issues of Edinburgh’s historic graveyards.


Nov 27, 2012

The new post-holder will be appointed to help develop the project, and co-ordinate efforts to improve the condition and promotion of the graveyards. Edinburgh World Heritage and World Monuments Fund have each contributed £4,000 to the project, and the Pilgrim Trust has awarded £8,000.

Five of Edinburgh’s historic graveyards were added to World Monuments Fund Watch List in 2010. The list calls international attention to cultural heritage at risk, opening the door to support from organisations across the globe, and from World Monuments Fund itself, which offers support to those on the list.

The graveyards included in the listing are Greyfriars Kirkyard, Canongate Kirkyard, St Cuthberts Kirkyard, Old Calton Burial Ground and New Calton Burial Ground. Buried within them are international figures such as the economist Adam Smith, the philosopher David Hume; as well as important characters from the history of the city such as the poet Robert Fergusson, James Craig who planned the New Town and of course ‘Greyfriars Bobby’ the famously loyal Skye Terrier.

The new post-holder will be appointed to carry through the recommendations of a recently completed report, commissioned by EWH and World Monuments Fund, addressing the challenge of the city centre graveyards. The work will focus around building up and co-ordinating community support for these city-centre green spaces, encouraging engagement, and working with colleagues at the City of Edinburgh Council to consider their management of these sites.

The challenges facing the graveyards are complex, but often come down to a question of ownership, which has led to neglect and in turn has led to antisocial behaviour. Headstones, tombs and memorials are owned by the family but over hundreds of years they are forgotten and fall into disrepair. The City of Edinburgh Council and the churches are respectively responsible for general maintenance, but there are no funds available for repair. Graveyards also offer secluded spaces for drug-taking and other anti-social behaviour, which can deter visitors as they feel unsafe.

Melissa Marshall, Project Manager at World Monuments Fund Britain said: “We are delighted that these evocative sites across Edinburgh are getting the support they deserve. With focused attention over the next two years, we believe that the graveyards will once again become places where the local community and tourists alike can take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the peaceful views.”

Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture & Leisure convener, said: "We are fully committed to preserving Edinburgh’s heritage, including our beautiful and historic graveyards, and the appointment of a dedicated post-holder will help the city towards this. Council officers will work closely with successful candidate, together with Edinburgh World Heritage and representatives from the burial grounds, to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity.”

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: "Edinburgh's graveyards are one of the city's great heritage assets, important not only for the many famous figures buried there, but also as green oases in the midst of the city.  This unique post will enable us to properly co-ordinate efforts to conserve and promote them, and we are very grateful to the Pilgrim Trust and World Monuments Fund for their support.”

 



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