Sunday 16 June 2013

A magical week in the cemetery

I've just returned from my fieldwork in Highgate Cemetery. I spent an entire week measuring memorials, drawing maps and photographing everything. I would love to show you all the photographs I took but I have an agreement that the photographs I take are for research purposes only.

However I also took some photographs of friendly local wildlife, who just happened to be in the cemetery... So I think it's OK to post those here! 

This fox was sunbathing on the catacomb roof on the first afternoon I arrived and after that he came to check on me whenever I was in his part of the cemetery; when he wasn't in the courtyard by the chapels (unsucessfully) begging for food! The cemetery is a nature reserve and so it's also something of a fox sanctuary, where an old mangy fox like this one can live out his days safe from dogs and other hazards. Apparently someone does feed him too, so he doesn't have to chase after the cemetery squirrels (who were too quick to photograph).

On two different afternoons I was followed around by a cheeky robin; he hopped from stone to stone, cocking his head to stare at this strange girl with her tape measure and compass. He was a very willing models for these photographs. 

I also spotted this beautiful black cat slipping between the memorials. He paused momentarily, fixed me with a look of pure cat-like disdain and continued upon his way, leaving me little time to capture him on camera!

I'm also going to include a couple of bonus images of the cemetery because this kind of image can be found in many other places and so I don't feel like I'm breaking the rules too much =]

This is the entrance to the famous Egyptian Avenue.

It is lined with catacombs.

And leads to the Circle of Lebanon; a ring of catacombs surrounding a Cedar of Lebanon tree which Pre-dates the cemetery, having been planted when the land belonged to a manor house.

Although I had a wonderful time at Highgate I am very happy to be home to my boyfriend, with my comfy bed and somewhere to put my tired, tired feet up. I could also finally get back to feeling like myself and put all my practical clothes in the wash! This is what I look like when I am doing fieldwork; very glamorous!

That's right, your eyes do not deceive you, I am indeed wearing a full set of waterproofs and carrying a hard hat (I only have to put it on in high winds when there is a risk that branches might fall on my head!) and a walkie talkie (so that if I fall down a vault I can call for help!). My trusty doc martens protect my feet from injury with their steel toe caps. The rucksack holds my equipment, notes, first aid kit and lunch.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and having a small insight into both this beautiful place but also the world of archaeological research! My next post will be about something lovely I brought on my one afternoon off in Camden Market!


  1. Poor old fox is rather mangy, isn't he? But it's nice he can live out his days in peace. Your robins look very different from ours - yours are way cuter!

    The cemetery photos are beautiful, as always. I can hardly wait to see what you bought! :D

    1. Yes, he is very mangy. I felt sorry for him and would have fed him myself if I hadn't heard he was already being fed.

      Aww, I'll have to go and look up pictures of your robins now!

      Thanks I'm glad to share a little of the beauty of Highgate with you. Hehe, you won't have to wait too long!

  2. That sounds amazing1 I really want to go to Highgate, I can't believe I didn't go there when we went to Europe, although I did go to the famous cemetery in Paris and the Catacombs. The fox is a cutie, I adore foxes, but I can't have one now because I have a bird. I had one do a little dance on the lawn outside me window where I used to live.

    The robin is very cute. Your story of him flying around near you reminds me of the robin in The Secret Garden.

    Once your thesis is completed, marked etc, I would love to see it!

    1. Aww, well maybe you can visit next time. Let me know if you return are and i'll give you a tour! I'm glad you saw Pere Lachaise (or Montmatre maybe?) and the Catacombs though, they are lovely.

      Oh wow, you used to have a fox? That's awesome. Having a bird is pretty great too though. Hehe a dancing fox! I'd love to see that but I think an old one like the one at the cemetery is a bit beyond dancing =P

      It reminded me of the secret garden too, robins are generally very friendly =]

      Thank you, I'll probably be publishing it online so you'll be able to read it. Will be a couple of years before it is finished though.

  3. Oh I envy your work, it must be a blessing to be able to work with this research. The cemetary looks beautiful with the grand monuments.
    I'm lucky to have a visiting robin in my garden. They are very curious birds, checking you out during the garden work.

    1. It is a blessing, the only blessing in doing a PhD for all of the hard work!

      It is a really beautiful place, some of the monuments are very grand indeed; there is one mausoleum that is so big that it cost £8000; which is the equivalent of a few million today!

      Aww, I do love robins, they are so cheeky; not afraid of people at all!

  4. What a beautiful place to be *o*

  5. I always seem to attract Robins wherever I work, a squirrel once got in my car and ate my sandwiches.