A Marker to Remember: Transformations in Plot Attributes from 1870s – 1930s in Dunedin’s Historic Northern Cemetery
Dunedin’s Historic Northern Cemetery (DHNC) is a non-denominational cemetery that contains over 18,000 burials from 1873 to 1937 when the last plot was sold, although cremated family members are still permitted in family plots. Unlike contemporary cemeteries that were separated into denominational or ethnic divisions, DHNC was divided into four classes of blocks based on the sizing of these plots and the height of their memorial structures. In this study only Extra-First, First, and Second class plots are investigated due to a lack of memorialisation of Third class burials. This research identified the transformations in 23 attributes of 1407 markers and plots: morphology; iconography; inscriptional elements (such as the memorial inscription, lettering, language, and epitaph); marker materials; height; condition; class; date and decade; footstones and materials; fences and materials; concrete coverings; masons markings; and geographic affiliations. Transformations in the commemoration of individuals and attitudes towards death are inferred through marker attributes, which are influenced by the agency, identity, and ideology of the community (Edgar 1995, Higgins 1998, Hurley 1998). Identifying the stylistic and functional attributes of types of markers and memorials is important for understanding the transforming value of the deathscape to Dunedin’s communities.This study analyses the functional and stylistic transformations in markers and memorials in decades surrounding the First World War (1914-1918), specifically the transformations between pre-War and post-War decades. The study also identifies the implications of these changing attitudes towards death and commemoration in Dunedin society.
Advisor: Barber, Ian
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology/ Archaeology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Dunedin; Cemeteries; New Zealand; Commemoration; Memorials; Archaeology
Research Type: Thesis