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A FREE Online talk with Dr Helen Frisby exploring the fascinating traditions which have surrounded death, grief and burial from ancient times to the present day.

Death has been a source of grief and uncertainty for humanity throughout history, but it has also inspired a plethora of fascinating traditions. The covering of mirrors to prevent the departed spirit from seeing itself; the passing bell rung to assist the soul to heaven; the ‘sin eater’ who by eating and drinking absorbed the corpse’s sins – all of these were common approaches at one time or another. Taking evidence from history, archaeology and folklore, this talk explores English approaches to death and burial from the Norman conquest to the present day: ancient customs which have long since lapsed, others which have survived relatively unchanged, and new approaches such as eco-burials – and of course the impact of Covid-19 upon our way of dying. Weaving their way through ten centuries of funerary customs, we’ll see again and again the threads of affection and duty which tether the living to the dead, and oblige us to acknowledge our own mortality.

Helen Frisby obtained her PhD on Victorian funeral customs from the University of Leeds in 2009. She’s appeared on the History Channel and BBC Radio, and is the author of Traditions of Death and Burial (Bloomsbury: 2019) upon which this talk is based. Helen’s most recent research, conducted through the University of Bristol with Dr Stuart Prior, investigates the informal occupational culture of frontline cemetery staff. Helen is Secretary of the Association for the Study of Death & Society (ASDS) and a Council Member of the Folklore Society.

This talk will take place via Zoom. Ticket holders will be sent a link and password to join the zoom session on the day of the talk.


28th January 2021
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Josie Wall

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


We had an amazing day yesterday at the @jqbid #jqfestival collaborating with @jo_gane1 @suslifeuk @dontgointothecellar and of course the @friendskeyhillwarstonelanecem meeting so many amazing people

We couldn't have done it without everyone's help, including loads of support behind the scenes from @bhamcitycouncil @coffin_works @thehivejq and all the amazing #JQHeritageSquad volunteers.

Now we need to sleep for a week but then we'll be buzzing with ideas for 2023!

We are very excited about 'Diamonds in the Rough' a unique tour with storytelling & live performance, exploring queer history in the JQ Cemeteries for LGBT History Month.
Join Sheldon K Goodman and
Sacha Coward from @thecemeteryclub
on 12th-14th February:

#lgbthistory #valentinesday #birmingham #jewelleryquarter #jewelleryquarterbirmingham #cemetery #tour #birminghamheritage

This project is possible because of funding from: