A Marginalized Activity

From After World War I
  • Harold Mytum
Part of the Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique book series (MATT)


The dominant view amongst those researching attitudes to death, burial and commemoration is that the massive losses during World War I caused a dramatic and substantial shift in popular culture (Cannadine, 1981; Jalland, 1999). The social and ideological importance of the funeral, mourning and commemoration were all reduced, and this is reflected in the material evidence both above and below ground. There was undoubtedly a trend of this kind, though the amount of research to prove this causal link to material evidence has been limited beyond those studies of war cemeteries and memorials (see below). Alternative views also exist that need further consideration. One highlights existing attitudinal trends such as the growing interest in less complex ceremony and the rise of cremation in Britain in the later 19th century (Leaney, 1989; Tarlow, 1997; 1999b). Another view emphasizes the commercial pressures regarding the management of cemeteries, evidenced by development of the memorial park cemetery before the United States was involved with World War I (Sloane, 1991:155-163). Whatever the causes, and no doubt there were many, the funeral industry and burial and commemoration provision underwent as many changes in the 20th century as it had in the 19th. Despite a comforting aura of continuity exuded by the relevant professions, the combinations of commercial, social and ideological pressures through the century have left their mark.


Marginalize Activity Burial Ground Burial Area Earth Burial Wooden Cross 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold Mytum
    • 1
  1. 1.University of YorkYorkUK

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