Scott Bird's Family Tree

Edinburgh Burials and Cremation History

This timeline highlights the significant events in Edinburgh's history relating to burials and cremations.

10C :: 12C :: 15C :: 16C :: 17C :: 18C :: 19C :: 20C

10th Century

A church probably existed on the site of the present St Cuthbert's Church, at the foot of Edinburgh Castle.

12th Century

1124 Duddingston Kirk [photo] built beside Duddingston Loch, Holyrood Park.

1128 Holyrood Abbey founded by David I.

15th Century

St Anthony's Chapel built, overlooking St Margaret's Loch in Holyrood Park.

1483 The original South Leith Church was built.

1404 Old Corstorphine Parish Church built by Sir Adam Forrester, alongside the church of St Mary (since demolished).

1466 St Giles [photo] elevated to Collegiate Church by James III. The churchyard runs from the High Street southward to the Cowgate.

16th Century

1562 Mary, Queen of Scots gives the vacated Greyfriars yard to the city; to help ease the burden on the overcrowded St Giles churchyard.

1585 St Giles churchyard closed.

17th Century

1632 A new Parliament House and Court of Session built on a large part of St Giles churchyard, tenements built on the remainder of the churchyard. The churchyard ceases to exist.

1664 North Leith Cemetery opened.

1690 Canongate Church and cemetery opened.

18th Century

1718 Calton Cemetery opened.

1763 Buccleuch Cemetery opened.

1795 Herman Lyon (Lion), a Prussian dentist and "corn operator" purchased a burial plot for himself and his family north of the City Observatory on Calton Hill. Lost for many years, the site was rediscovered in 1994.

19th Century

1816 Braid Place (now Sciennes Place) Cemetery opened. This was the first Jewish cemetery in Scotland.

1817 New Calton Cemetery opened.

1818 St John's Church and cemetery (west end of Princes St, next to St Cuthbert's) opened.

1819 Buccleuch Cemetery declared full. Adjacent church is now owned by the University of Edinburgh.

1820 East Preston Street Cemetery opened.
Braid Place (now Sciennes House Place), was used (until 1867). The two extant lists of burials give details of approximately thirty people.

1840s A walled garden in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle was used to bury Officers' dogs and mascots.

1843 Warriston Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Cemetery Company.

1845 Dean Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Western Cemetery Company.

1846 Newington and Dalry Cemeteries opened by the Metropolitan Cemetery Association.
Rosebank Cemetery (Pilrig) opened by the Edinburgh and Leith Cemetery Company.

1847 Grange Cemetery opened by the Southern Cemetery Company.

1869 Braid Place Cemetery full. A piece of land was purchased in Newington (formerly Echobank) Cemetery and used for Jewish burials, until 1945.

1878 Morningside Cemetery opened by the Metrolitan Cemetery Company.

1879 St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral opened.

1881 North Merchiston Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Cemetery Company.

1883 Eastern Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Eastern Cemetery Company. Now maintained by the Private Cemetery Co Ltd.

1887 Piershill Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh and Portobello Cemetery Company. This is Edinburgh's current cemetery for Jewish burials.

1888 Seafield Cemetery opened by the Leith Cemetery Company.

1895 Mt Vernon RC Cemetery (Liberton) opened.

1898 Comely Bank Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Cemetery Company.

20th Century

1909 Edinburgh Cremation Society formed.

1919 Saughton Hill Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Cemetery Company.

1928 Corstorphine Hill Cemetery opened by the Edinburgh Cemetery Company.

1929 Warriston Crematorium opened.

1946 The Jewish land in Newington (formerly Echobank) Cemetery declared full, and land was acquired in Piershill Cemetery for future Jewish burials. This is still in use.

1959 Mortonhall opened by Edinburgh Corporation.

1987 Dalry purchased by Edinburgh District Council.

1992 North Merchiston Cemetery purchased by Edinburgh District Council.

1994 Comely Bank, Newington, Warriston, Saughton Hill and Corstorphine Hill cemeteries purchased by Edinburgh District Council.


Guide pamphlet for Canongate Kirk (the Kirk of Holyroodhouse)

Guide pamphlet for St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh

Cremation Society of Great Britain

Burial Grounds of Edinburgh

BBC News

Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain

Last updated: Jul 11, 2005

NB : I'd love to find out more about these people, particularly those from the last 200-300 years.

If you can help flesh out their stories, please get in touch via my personal site, at / contact . Thank-you.