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Dr Susan Buckham - Hon. Research Fellow


Dr Susan Buckham specialises in the interdisciplinary study of historic graveyards, with a particular focus on Scottish burial sites of the post-Reformation period. Drawing on 20 years of experience in graveyard recording, conservation, research and interpretation, Susan’s knowledge and skills spans graveyard history and development, conservation good practice, and the policy and legislation relevant to burial ground management and protection.

Susan holds a PhD from the University of York (awarded 2004), where she studied in the Archaeology Department. Her doctoral research examined the social and economic influences upon Victorian gravestone designs in York Cemetery. From 2001 to 2005, Susan held the role of Carved Stones Adviser at Archaeology Scotland and led a Historic Scotland-funded project to promote best practice in graveyard conservation, management and recording. A former Director of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (2006-2009), Susan is currently Graveyard Development Officer at Edinburgh World Heritage (part-time) and runs Kirkyard Consulting as a freelance specialist in the conservation and research of Scottish graveyards.

As Chair of the Death in Scotland Conference Committee, Susan works to raise awareness of and accelerating interest in multi-disciplinary research into Scottish death studies. The third Death in Scotland Conference took place at New College, Edinburgh 29-31 January 2016. For more information see Death in Scotland from the Medieval to the Modern or email

Susan is also the Secretary and Treasurer of the National Committee on the Carved Stones in Scotland.

Research Interests

  • Graveyards as burial landscapes – how were sites managed in the past and how did this influence their appearance and use?
  • Assessing the significance of burial sites – how can we approach holistically to use different evidence bases (e.g. field, archaeological, documentary, oral history) and embrace a fuller range of potential values (e.g. social, public, historical, biodiversity, geodiversity)?
  • Graveyard interpretation – what stories are currently being told and what voices and stories are missing? What makes interpreting graveyards different to interpreting other types of heritage sites?

Selected Projects

  • Who’s telling the stories? Graveyard Interpretation Workshop Kirkyard Consulting in partnership with the Cemetery Research Group, University of York and Archaeology Scotland (May - July 2015)
  • Edinburgh Graveyards Project (April 2013 to present)
  • Preparation of a conservation management plan for Govan Old Churchyard, team leader and principal researcher on behalf of Govan Workspace (February 2014)
  • Preparation of a conservation strategy for rural graveyards, (lead contractor, in conjunction with the Strathclyde Buildings Preservation Trust) on behalf of Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (August 2013)

Selected Bibliography

  • Susan Buckham (2016), ‘Influence of Cemetery Management on Burial Landscapes’, in Death In Modern Scotland Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices, S. Buckham and P. Jupp (eds.) David Lang Publishing (forthcoming January 2016)
  • Susan Buckham (2015), ‘Graveyards’ in Essays on the Local History and Archaeology of West Central Scotland Research framework, Glasgow Museums
  • Susan Buckham (2013), Edinburgh Graveyards Project Scoping Report, World Monuments Fund, New York ()
  • Susan Buckham and Catherine Lloyd (2013), ‘Kirkyard Heritage Graveyard Conservation in Scotland’ in Historic Churches
  •  Susan Buckham (2011), ‘Not Architects of Decay: the Influence of Cemetery Management on Cemetery Landscapes’ Context, March 2011
  • Susan Buckham (2010), How to Understand and Interpret Your Local ChurchyardGuidance leaflet for Scotland’s Churches Scheme
  • website create to support the Carved Stones Adviser Project
  • Susan Buckham (2000), Meeting One’s Maker: Commemoration and Consumer Choice in York Cemetery 1837-1901, unpublished PhD, University of York


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