Blogging from the Murcia region of Spain until early June, when I return to the Highlands of Scotland for a few months
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Inverness makes choices about burying its dead

People get born, live their lives and eventually die. What to do with the bodies of the deceased? Traditionally, in western culture, the custom has been to bury people 'six feet under' in a coffin usually made of wood, for the body to decompose over time or as the minister seems always to say when 'committing' the body to the ground:
Earth to Earth
Ashes to Ashes
Dust to Dust

In more recent times it has become increasingly popular to cremate the body and either to 'scatter' the ashes or to keep them in some kind of urn or container. Partly in my view thas has been because of pressure (i.e. shortage) of space, partly for other cultural reasons. Indeed cremation was for many centuries frowned upon by an all-powerful church, until this began to be challenged in the UK in the latter part of the 19th century (and there's an interesting article about this in the University of Durham Schools area).

However, for many people burial remains the preferred way, so Inverness is to decide shortly whether to demolish a derelict house and its walled garden within the Kilvean Cemetary in order to provide upto 750 additional burial spaces. Getting a burial 'lair' or 'plot' has become increasingly difficult (and sometimes costly) in many part of Britain. In British society there does not seem be any negativity in overlooking a cemetary from one's home (certainly not the case in some Asian cultures - east Asia, at least) so if the property were redeveloped as a house or apartments I am sure there would be a market for it. I confess I have no particular feelings about this one way or the other, except that it will shine an interesting light on Inverness's priorities (and on the city where I happen to have been born).

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