I love the deep quiet that cemeteries have, even if there are leaves crunching and birds squabbling. I get the feeling feeling that I’m able to barely brush against something eternal. As a child I would often be taken on walks at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. I suspect this gave me the idea that cemeteries are places for peace and rest, whether you are living or dead.
Here are some cemetery photos I’ve taken in the past year – you may have seen them on Instagram already. The oldest of the grave markers are from the Eliot Burying Grounds in Roxbury. It’s usually locked behind a large wrought iron fence. For two years I used to stand under the horse chestnut tree outside its gates to wait for the bus, and wonder what it would be like to walk inside. Happily, on a recent walking tour in the neighborhood I got the chance. I was told that the adjacent building was recently renovated, and when they tore up the foundation they found graves. I wondered what other sacred places our current buildings cover.
The first images are from last fall, at Mount Auburn Cemetery, a favorite strolling place for me. And the last images are from the other day, in Edinburgh, the Dean Village Cemetery. Dean Village was developed in the Victorian era, along the Water of Leith. I loved the informative turn of the century stones, especially this one:George Herbert Tayler Swinton, d. 1923, who “at great sacrifice repurchased the lands of his ancestors.” His father, Archibald Adam Swinton, Esq., was formerly of the Bengal Civil Service, and simply “fell asleep at Trecunter Lodge, London, Jan 1894 at the age of 73. His wife, Isabella Reid Swinton, died in the same place in 1909.
George HT Swinton lost his wife Mary the same year as his father.
One wonders if he began to consider reacquiring his family lands after that year of loss. I wonder what that took. I wonder what each of these lives were like.