Even though I always had Dean Cemetery on my list of cemeteries to visit in Edinburgh, it always seemed a distant second to other more well-known cemeteries, like Greyfriars Kirkyard. Yet this cemetery turned out to be a hidden treasure and certainly my favourite so far of the cemeteries that I’ve been to on this trip.
Now, this isn’t a cemetery with numerous statues and grand mausoleums, but there are a fair number of interesting monuments nonetheless. One of the first things I noticed was the prevalence of portraits done in relief, often in bronze, and sometimes marble. Like Glasglow’s Necropolis, there were plenty of shocking hairstyles that will be permanent reminders of what was in fashion back in the 19th century. I love it.
Of course, there were a fair number of beautiful Celtic crosses as well.
Many of the gravestones had interesting epitaphs, and provided a historical snapshot to the draw of the colonies, or the reality of war, as many family members seemed to have died abroad – France, Italy, Barbados, at sea, India, Egypt, New Zealand, etc.
What I really enjoyed about Dean Cemetery were the slightly meandering paths that wove their way through the grounds. Along with beautiful trees and the birds singing everywhere, it really made for a pleasant way to spend the morning.
There were a few sculptures that featured grieving women, although in many cases grime from the elements had a bit of an impact on their beauty.
Overall this was a lovely place to visit and in all likelihood, probably a cemetery I will revisit whenever I return to Edinburgh.
Monuments: A number of interesting statues, memorials and large family tombs. Quite a number of gravestones have long lists and interesting information concerning all the family members of a particular plot, it could take some time to read all of them.
Grounds: Flat with well laid out paths. The newer section is in a more grid-like pattern, the older section has the meandering paths. Lots of large, lovely trees.
Visitors: A handful of people were here when I visited, but I rarely ran into anyone.
Site: Dean Cemetery
Notable Internments: many notable Scots – from politicians to artists, engineers to architects, doctors to historians. A small list of the many include Lena Ashwell (actress), Joseph Bell (physician who was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes), Isabella Bird (traveller, writer, photographer), James David Forbes (physicist and glaciologist), Elsie Inglis (pioneer female doctor and war hero), pioneering photographers Rev Dr James Calder Macphail DD and David Octavius Hill.
Location: 63 Dean Path, Edinburgh
Hours: 090:00-17:00 daily