‘It is the greenness, the nature, it looks as if someone has taken care of the place very well’. Experiences from St Eskil cemetery in Sweden
Nordh, Helena; Wingren, Carola (2023-03-08)
The Donner Institute
This article is about experiences of a cemetery landscape: a physical space that was chosen as a depository for human remains, and where different memorial and disposal practices have developed behavioural patterns that together form a cemetery culture. Through qualitative research at St Eskil’s, Eskilstuna, Sweden, encompassing field observations and interviews (N=14) with stakeholders and people from the general public, we aim to describe and discuss the cemetery as a place and environment experienced from a perspective of people of diverse backgrounds. The study reveals important characteristics that facilitate designing, caretaking, developing and using cemeteries more generally. Findings show that most interviewees, independent for example of cultural or religious adherence, describe the cemetery as a beautiful natural or garden-like place. The well-maintained landscape is emphasized as a self-evident or impressive quality. The cemetery is experienced as ‘typically Swedish’ and described in terms of order and sense of care. Diversity in both design and multi-cultural and individual expressions are observed, acknowledged and welcomed. We conclude that nature (including a garden approach), care and diversity are key concepts that should be considered in design and development of future cemeteries.