Edinburgh Graveyards Project
The Edinburgh Graveyards Project aimed to increase community involvement with five historic Graveyards in the Edinburgh World Heritage Site area: Greyfriars, Canongate, St Cuthbert’s Kirkyards and Calton Old and Calton New Burial Grounds.
Each of these sites is at risk; suffering not only at the hands of weathering and erosion but also from limited resources, anti-social behaviour and a lack of awareness of their value as local green open spaces. The project is co-ordinating a joined-up approach to revitalising these places so that they became well-loved community resources as well as ‘must-see’ visitor attractions.
From January 2020 until January 2023, Edinburgh World Heritage focussed on Greyfriars Kirkyard, and delivery of the Making Lasting Impressions: Greyfriars Kirkyard Community Learning and Interpretation Project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Making Lasting Impressions: Greyfriars Kirkyard Community Learning and Interpretation Project is a two-year project which takes a co-ordinated approach to balancing enjoyment of the graveyard as a well-loved community resource and greenspace, as well as a visitor attraction.
Founded in 1562 with land gifted by Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Walter Scott described Greyfriars as ‘the Westminster Abbey of Scotland’ in recognition of the significance of those buried there and its role in nationally-important events. Located within the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site, Greyfriars Kirkyard is at risk not only from weathering and erosion but also from limited resources, over-tourism and a lack of awareness of its value as a local green open space.
Making Lasting Impressions explored fresh perspectives on the value of Greyfriars Kirkyard to communities today by involving a wider range of people with this heritage site. Edinburgh World Heritage’s Graveyards Project Manager, Dr Susan Buckham worked collaboratively with young people, homeless people, locals and heritage volunteers, to create new interpretations on what makes this graveyard so special. The project made use of tools such as cutting-edge technology and game-playing to make interpretation accessible and engaging.
Through engaging with the diverse local community around Greyfriars Kirkyard, the project built awareness, capacity, lifelong learning and heritage skills to ensure that Greyfriars can be enjoyed for many generations to come.