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Edinburgh World Heritage/Graveyards

The aim is for all five graveyards to become a well-loved community resource and a key attraction for visitors

Susan Buckham - Graveyards Development Officer


    Graveyards Projects

    A community-led revitalisation project in five of the city's burial grounds – important green spaces.

    Revitalising green space

    Edinburgh Graveyards Project

    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.

    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.

    Views from the graveyards

    Walking tours, community clean-ups, improving the signage and pathways, and uncovering some of the fascinating stories behind the people laid to rest in these graveyards is just some of the work that has taken place during this project. View our gallery to see further highlights.

    “The key to ensuring the future of the historic graveyards is community stewardship, ensuring that their management is shaped by local needs and encouraging people to realise that they are worth looking after. Once the local community is properly engaged, these areas can break the cycle of decline and be transformed into tranquil green urban oases.”

    Susan Buckham

    Graveyards Development Officer

    Working together

    Improving at-risk sites

    "Each of the five of the graveyards in Edinburgh's World Heritage Site is unique. We have worked with members of the community to place these hidden treasures firmly on Edinburgh's tourist map." – Susan Buckham