It is commonly believed that in medieval and post-medieval towns and cities death outnumbered births and that these urban centres could only survive through the influx of migrants; a concept which has come to be known as the urban graveyard effect. Whether this was indeed the case for all cities and towns is still debated, but it is certain that urban citizens were more used to death that we are today. The medieval graveyards in which the deceased were interred, then still located within town limits, are an invaluable source of knowledge for reconstructing past lives. Systematic archaeological and osteoarchaeological research of urban graveyards has become the norm in the Netherlands and Belgium since the 1980s. However, many of the studies remain unpublished and larger, overarching publications in which comparisons are made between different studies are still lacking.
The urban graveyard presents several studies in which the results of older archaeological and osteoarchaeological research are compared to more recent excavation data from several Dutch, Belgian and Danish cities and towns. Both the archaeological data concerning burial position, orientation, and grave goods as well as osteoarchaeological data such as demographic information and pathological observations are discussed. This well-illustrated volume is a starting point and source of inspiration for more (inter)national comparative research.
1. Roos van Oosten & Rachel Schats
2. Andrea L. Waters-Rist, Rachel Schats & Menno L.P. Hoogland
Ethical issues in human osteoarchaeology: Recommendations for best practice in the Netherlands
3. Frans Theuws
Rural cemeteries, cult places and community identities in the Central Middle Ages in the Kempen region (southern Netherlands)
4. Catelijne Nater
Social differences in burial practices in the medieval cemetery of Reusel: An osteoarchaeological and mortuary archaeological study of burial practices in the southern Netherlands during the Central Middle Ages
5. Peter Bitter
Buried in Alkmaar: Historical and archaeological research on urban cemeteries
6. Epko J. Bult
Medieval and postmedieval cemeteries in and around the city of Delft: Thirty years of rescue archaeology
7. Ronald van Genabeek
A thousand graves: differences and similarities between archaeologically investigated burial grounds in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands (c. 1275-1858)
8. Gavin Williams
In the shadow of St. Plechelmus: A thousand years of burials
9. Koen De Groote, Jan Moens & Kim Quintelier
The Carmelite monastery in Aalst, Belgium, province of East Flanders (1497–1797): An urban burial ground in a monastic environment
10. Katrien Van de Vijver, Frank Kinnaer & Silvia Depuydt
St. Rombout’s cemetery in Mechelen, Belgium (10th–18th century AD): A typical urban churchyard?
11. Lene Høst-Madsen
Taking stock of burial archaeology: An emerging discipline in Denmark
12. Frank J. van Spelde & Menno L.P. Hoogland
A rural view of early modern mortuary practices: Context and material culture of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century cemetery of Middenbeemster, the Netherlands
About the contributors
Roos van Oosten
Roos van Oosten is universitair docent stadsarcheologie aan de Universiteit Leiden. Naast het verzorgen van onderwijs verricht zij momenteel onderzoek in het kader van haar Veni-project ‘Challenging the paradigm of filthy and unhealthy medieval towns’.
Roos van Oosten began her academic career studying medieval history after which she began her archaeological degree that culminated in a thesis on urban archaeology. Her PhD dissertation at the University of Groningen focused on sanitation management, which she successfully defended in 2014. In 2011 she was appointed as university lecturer in urban archaeology at Leiden University.
Rachel Schats is gepromoveerd op het onderzoek naar de fysieke consequenties van de middeleeuwse ontwikkelingen aan de hand van verschillende rurale en urbane skeletcollecties. Op het moment is zij werkzaam aan Universiteit Leiden als docent waar ze verantwoordelijk is voor het osteoarcheologische onderwijs in de bachelor en master.
Rachel Schats studied archaeology with a specialisation in osteoarchaeology at Leiden University and University College London after which she was appointed as a research and teaching assistant for the Laboratory of Human Osteoarchaeology in Leiden. Her PhD (defended November 2016) aimed at gaining a better understanding of the physical consequences of medieval developments, such as urbanisation and commercialisation, by comparing rural and urban skeletal populations.
Kerry Fast holds a PhD from the Centre for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral research was a historical-anthropological study of Canadian women’s religious lives. In more recent years, she has focused her research attention on traditional, distinct Mennonite groups, which has taken her to Bolivia, Mexico, and across Canada where she has conducted ethnographic research in Mennonite communities.
Nico Arts studeerde culturele en fysische antropologie in Leiden en pre- en protohistorie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Sinds 1989 werkt hij als stadsarcheoloog van Eindhoven. Hij is auteur van een lange reeks publicaties over de steentijd in het zuiden van Nederland en over de archeologie van middeleeuws en vroeg-modern Eindhoven.
Nico Arts studied cultural and physical anthropology at Leiden University and pre- and proto-history at the University of Amsterdam. Since 1989, he has been employed as the urban archaeologist for the city of Eindhoven.
Jeroen Bouwmeester werkt sinds 2009 als senior onderzoeker middeleeuwse en vroegmoderne stad bij de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Hij is afgestudeerd in de Archeologie van Noordwest-Europa aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Since 2009, Jeroen Bouwmeester has been employed by the Cultural Heritage Agency as a senior researcher of medieval and early-modern cities. He studied the archaeology of Northwest Europe at VU University in Amsterdam.