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The Long Reformation of the Dead in Scotland

RAEBURN, GORDON,DAVID (2012) The Long Reformation of the Dead in Scotland. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis argues that, although attempts were initially made at the Reformation of 1560 to reform Scottish burial practices, and thereafter further attempts were made fairly consistently throughout the following decades and centuries, it was actually not until the Disruption of 1843 and subsequent events that there was any true measure of success in the reform of Scottish burial practices. Prior to the Reformation Scotland was a Catholic nation, although in terms of burial practices it was somewhat different to other Catholic countries. This individuality of burial practice was to continue throughout the three centuries covered by this thesis. Following the Reformation attempts were made by the various Kirk authorities throughout Scotland to reform burial practice along Protestant lines. These attempts were largely uniform throughout Scotland, although certain regional variations existed, for instance attempts made to ban practices such as the coronach in the Highlands and Islands. Some of these attempts were successful, others were less so. Additionally, reforms aimed at the lower social orders were more successful, on the whole, than those aimed at the upper classes, as the upper classes could afford to pay nominal fines after a breach of the rules concerning burial. However, over the period the goals of the early reformers to ensure that in death all were seen to be equal, regardless of class or social status, and the removal of practices deemed to be superstitious or intercessory, were more or less ignored. By the time of the Disruption burial practice in Scotland was barely related to the ideals of Knox and the other early Scottish reformers. However, with the expulsion of the Free Church of Scotland from the Kirk owned burial grounds, new locations had to be sought. These were ultimately found in the newly opened public cemeteries. These were locations set aside for burial alone, and were not consecrated, two of the core ideals of the early Scottish reformers. Additionally, there were no graveside sermons and no attempts at intercession on behalf of the dead. Finally, after three centuries, at least one group of Scottish Presbyterians had almost fully embraced the reformation of the dead.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Church History, Scotland, Reformation, Early Modern, Modern, Burial, Funerals
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 Mar 2013 08:40

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