Despite passing the monolithic edifices of Old Calton Cemetery daily on commute whilst I lived in Edinburgh, it wasn’t until the historical research of this project that I understood the significance of the site.
Both Architecturally, and in the wider cultural context, Old Calton Cemetery is the home to mausoleums to figures such as David Hume, the intelligentsia of the Scottish Enlightenment. Architecturally, this tomb is vitally important to understanding moves embracing the picturesque and neoclassical which were to form so much of the wider city’s identity when adopted.
On an urban design scale, the cemetery illustrates the earth changing, ground moving, massive scale industrial zeitgeist of the 18th century. Regent’s Road cuts straight through a cleft hewn from the old graveyard itself, banks of earth containing exhumed bodies held in check by vast retaining walls to create a new avenue of approach to the “New Town.”
Most radically, the cemetery hosts memorials to political martyrs such as Thomas Muir, importantly funded by the people themselves.
The afternoon was spent on an initial documenting and exploring of Old Calton Cemetery, to be followed up at a later date.