The Edinburgh Graveyards Project aims 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 2022, Edinburgh World Heritage will focus on Greyfriars Kirkyard, and delivery of the Making Lasting Impressions: Greyfriars Kirkyard Community Learning and Interpretation Project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The watchtower of Old Calton Burial Ground
The five graveyards are of international importance, charting the city’s development from the medieval burgh to the eighteenth and nineteenth century neo-classical city. As a group they also document some of the major changes in Scottish history, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, but at a human scale showing how they touched people’s lives. Many historically important figures are buried in the five graveyards, such as philosophers David Hume in Old Calton burying ground, and Adam Smith in Canongate Kirkyard; George Buchanan, tutor to King James VI in Greyfriars and mathematician John Napier in St Cuthbert’s Kirkyard.
In addition to the many volunteer-based activities that have taken place through this project, a walking trail of each graveyard has also been developed.