chapter  35
Cremation and contemporary churchyards
WithHoward Williams, Elizabeth Williams
Pages 17

This chapter looks at the intersectional agencies of diocesan regulations, parish councils and individual mourners to create a diverse range of new memorial environments. Cremation is a complex and variable fiery technology. Across the human past and present, fire has been variously deployed to transform the dead in a range of spatial and social contexts. Cremation re-emerged in Europe and North America in the closing decades of the nineteenth century and has risen inexorably in popularity. Cremation cross-cuts many religious traditions and is the choice disposal method for many who have no fixed or firm cultural or religious views on the afterlife. Archaeologists are, therefore, well placed to identify the complexity and variability of how the technology of cremation both facilitates and offers new opportunities for memorialisation in the most traditional of spaces: the churchyard. Despite the relatively greater distances of rural churchyards from crematoria cremation has become an integral part of churchyard transformations in the later twentieth century.