Dean Cemetery

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The Lords Row, Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh
File:Buchanan Memorial, Dean Cemetery.JPG
The huge Buchanan Memorial, Dean Cemetery
File:The south-west section of Dean Cemetery.JPG
The south-west section of Dean Cemetery
File:The large and ornate monument to James Leishman, Dean Cemetery.jpg
The large and ornate monument to James Leishman, Dean Cemetery
File:The gothic masterpiece to David Jeffrey (1817-1905), Dean Cemetery.jpg
The gothic masterpiece to David Jeffrey (1817-1905), Dean Cemetery

The Dean Cemetery is a historically important Victorian cemetery north of the Dean Village, west of Edinburgh city centre, in Scotland. It lies between Queensferry Road and the Water of Leith, bounded on its east side by Dean Path and on its west by the Dean Gallery. A 20th century extension lies detached from the main cemetery to the north of Ravelston Terrace. The main cemetery is accessible through the main gate on its east side, through a "grace and favour" access door from the grounds of Dean Gallery and from Ravelston Terrace. The modern extension is only accessible at the junction of Dean Path and Queensferry Road.

The cemetery

Dean Cemetery, also known as Edinburgh Western Cemetery,[1] was laid out by David Cousin (an Edinburgh architect who also laid out Warriston Cemetery) in 1846 and became a fashionable burial ground, its monuments becoming a rich source of Edinburgh and Victorian history, for mainly the middle and upper-classes. The many monuments bear witness to Scottish achievement in peace and war, at home and abroad.

As the cemetery plots were quickly bought up the cemetery was extended on its north side in 1871.[2] A second set of entrance gates were built on Dean Path, matching the original entrance. Although this section was originally only accessed through this gate the extension was quickly linked to the original section by creating gaps in the mutual wall where no graves existed. This extension is laid out in a more rectilinear pattern than the original curvelinear layout.

The separated section north of Ravelston Terrace (previously Edgehill Nursery[3]) was purchased in 1877 in anticipation of a sales rate matching that of the original cemetery, but this was not to be, and the area only began to be used in 1909 (excepting John Ritchie Findlay (1898) alone for a decade). This section is relatively plain and generally unremarkable, but does include a line of Scottish Law Lords against the north wall, perhaps trying to echo the "Lord's Row" against the west wall of the original cemetery. Whilst numerically greater in its number of lords it is far less eye-catching.

The entire cemetery is privately owned by the Dean Cemetery Trust Limited, making it one of the few cemeteries still run as it was intended to be run. The resultant layout, with its mature designed landscape, can be seen as an excellent example of a cemetery actually being visible in the form it was conceived to be seen.

The southern access from Belford Road is now blocked and the entrance road here is now grassed and used for the interment of ashes.

The cemetery contains sculpture by Sir John Steell, William Brodie, John Hutchison, Francis John Williamson, Pilkington Jackson, Amelia Robertson Hill, William Birnie Rhind, John Rhind, John Stevenson Rhind, William Grant Stevenson, Henry Snell Gamley, Charles McBride, George Frampton and Stewart McGlashan.

Dean House

File:Stone carving from Dean House 01.jpg
Stone carving from Dean House, now part of retaining wall in Dean Cemetery

The cemetery stands on the site of Dean House (built 1614), part of Dean Estate which had been purchased in 1609 by Sir William Nisbet, who became in 1616 Lord Provost of Edinburgh. The Nisbets of Dean held the office of Hereditary Poulterer to the King. The famous herald, Alexander Nisbet, of Nisbet House, near Duns, Berwickshire, is said to have written his Systems of Heraldry in Dean House. The estate house was demolished in 1845, and sculptured stones from it are incorporated into the south retaining wall supporting at the south side of the cemetery. It is not always realised that this lower, hidden section also contains graves.

Notable interments

Bust of artist and photography pioneer David Octavius Hill, sculpted by his second wife
Relief on the gravestone of Lt. John Irving, who died on the Franklin Expedition
File:Grave of Robert Anstruther Goodsir M.D., Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.JPG
Grave of Arctic explorer and surgeon, Robert Anstruther Goodsir M.D. who joined the search for the Franklin Expedition

Original cemetery

Southern Terrace

20th century extension

File:Monument to Elizabeth Dunlop Barclay by Henry Snell Gamley (1923).jpg
Monument to Elizabeth Dunlop Barclay by Henry Snell Gamley (1923)

Other monuments of interest

  • Monument to John George Bartholomew, map-maker (buried in Portugal) on the north wall of the 20th century cemetery extension (sculpted by Pilkington Jackson)
  • Monument to the 79th Cameron Highlanders marking their role in the Crimean War at Alma and Sevastapol. The rear of the monument commemorates their part in the Indian Mutiny at Lucknow
  • Monument to the Edinburgh-born Confederate Colonel Robert A. Smith who died in 1862 at Munfordsville, Kentucky in the American Civil War
  • Monument to historian John Hill Burton, who is buried at Dalmeny
  • Monument to John Wilson (1800–1849), vocalist (buried in Quebec), also subject of a memorial at the foot of Calton Hill
  • The Cemetery contains the war graves of 39 Commonwealth service personnel, 29 from World War I and 10 from World War II, registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[1] The oldest soldier buried is Major-General Sir John Munro Sym KCB (1839- 3 October 1919) aged 80 (this is a normal grave not a CWGC grave).[7] Most of the war graves lie in the independently accessed 20th century section to the north of the main cemetery.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Cemetery Details". Retrieved 7 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
  3. Ordnance Survery 1851 : Edinburgh
  4. "Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edsinburgh" (PDF). Retrieved 7 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Scott Monument" (PDF). Retrieved 7 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Helen Dingwall. "A pioneering history: dentistry and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh" (PDF). Retrieved 7 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Cemetery Details". Retrieved 7 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links


  • The Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh edited by A. S. Cowper and Euan S. McIver, Edinburgh, 1992. ISBN 0-901061-54-9.

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