I'm a PhD student researching the role of mortuary archaeology in contemporary British society. Think of this as a scrapbook of all the interesting links, snippets of information and random bits and bobs I come across pertaining to death, dying and the dead. Enjoy?!

TUESDAY 26 MARCH @ 10.00PM on ABC1

SOUL delves into the rituals of dressing the dead with artist and fashion designer Pia Interlandi, and follows her first collaboration with a living client to create a custom “Garment for the Grave”. In this clip, director Larin Sullivan talks about making the film.


Via the Wellcome Collection

For our Day of the Dead event last year, we commissioned a short documentary exploring the tradition of  ‘Dia de los Muertos’. Filmmaker Betty Martins reflects on the relationship between truth, memory and representation.

What I find very interesting in making films such as this one is the relationships that are initiated during the production process. The research, meeting the participants, the interviews and the editing is all about working on those relationships and that network-specific knowledge that we gain from this process, which is reflected in the direction that the work takes on until its final production.

This project is the exercise and the documentation of people’s personal memories, and we shot over one hour of footage for each interview. When watching the unedited video again and again you feel like you’ve been immersed into their memories. And while you are imagining their past through their remembrances, trying to make sense of a narrative while editing carefully each piece, you are also kind of re-assembling those memories. You then develop a relationship of affection. And that’s how the final work becomes a result of the work of those relationships. It is naive to think a documentary is 100% honest to the actual facts, especially if your work is based on people’s memories. If you consider that even one’s individual memory is already a reconstruction of the actual facts, we can understand that the narratives and its representations are relational. That’s what happens with projects such as this one, and it is in these complexities that, from my point of view, there is an artistic value.

Betty Martins is a filmmaker and educator. Find out more about her work at www.d-aep.org.


Neanderthal (Discovery Channel)

This revealing two-part drama documentary combined the latest scientific research with a stunning mixture of drama and cutting edge 3D animation to reconstruct the lives of these remarkable early humans. In the second part, the advanced Cro-Magnons arrive and a new Ice Age is dawning.

Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals coexisted on Earth until competition drove one of them to extinction. This program, set in the southwest of France 35,000 years ago, uses re-creations of cinematic proportions to reconstruct life in the Neanderthal world at the time Cro-Magnons first entered the scene.

All aspects of Neanderthal clan life are examined, including tool- and weapon-making, hunting and gathering, health and healing, childbirth, rituals, and making fire. Footage of skeletal remains and the scholarly research of eminent palaeontologist Chris Stringer and Oxford University’s Paul Pettitt support the documentary.


A great documentary from 2001—“Changing Tombs”—is available in four parts on YouTube.

It chronicles the work of the London Necropolis Company, who were hired to exhume the remains of about 1,500 dead folks from the graveyard and crypt of the 18th-century St. Luke’s Church in London, to make way for its refurbishment as a London Symphony Orchestra facility. 


  • Part One (above): Astonishingly well-preserved remains exhumed from the site, dating from the mid-19th century
  • Part Two: An overview of the 19th-centurty “burial crisis” in the U.K. and some choice passages from George Alfred Walker’s Gatherings from Graveyards; and details about Necropolis job requirements, which include a smallpox inoculation (something the British public stopped receiving in the early 1970s)
  • Part Three: A Necropolis employee explains how his work helped him lose his religion; the difficulty of getting Chinese food delivered to a cemetery; and a sweet-ass Volvo hearse
  • Part Four: Conclusion of the project and reburial of all the St. Luke’s remains in their new home, a mass grave outside London

Hope you enjoy as much as I did!



A Certain Kind of Death

Unblinking and unsettling, this documentary lays bare a mysterious process that goes on all around us - what happens to people who die with no next of kin.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but this movie is what made me seriously rethink my desire to ever work for the coroner’s office.