Death pyramids vs cemeteries as a final resting place
According to the article published on November 14, 2022, by www.labible.com, “London had plans for a 'death pyramid' that would have been higher than St Paul's Cathedral and would've been able to house millions of bodies architect Thomas Wilson came up with the plans for the Metropolitan Sepulchre in the 1800s and eyed Primrose Hill for the construction location. It was designed to address the city's lack of space for the dead at the time.”
This article is not the first time the “death pyramid” has been mentioned in print. Catharine Arnold has written about the structure in her book Necropolis: London and Its Dead suggesting that it would have provoked 'awe and wonder' as it was set to stand at 90 storeys high. Caitlin Doughty also wrote about it in her book From Here to Eternity, mentioning it as one of many ideas before their time in the history of death and funerals.
The public back in the 1800s did not embrace the concept. According to Caitlin Doughty’s book, “The public wanted garden cemeteries, they wanted to push the dead outside the cramped churchyards of central London and send them to sprawling landscapes where they could picnic and commune with the dead. They didn’t want a giant death mound… a monument to rot, dominating the city’s skyline.” (Page 180).
If it was built, this death pyramid would join other sites known for being beautiful places to honour where the dead are buried. According to www.Canada.mag.com, this is a short list of beautiful, non-North American, places where bodies are buried.
• Waverley Cemetery, Australia
• Okunoin Cemetery, Japan
• Merry Cemetery, Romania
• Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
• Panteón Antiguo, Mexico
• Highgate Cemetery, England
• Neptune Memorial Reef, Key Biscayne, Florida
In a 2019 Reader’s Digest magazine article, these Canadian places were suggested as the most beautiful and worth visiting:
• Cemetery – Montreal, Quebec
• Ross Bay Cemetery – Victoria, British Columbia
• Beechwood Cemetery – Ottawa, Ontario
• Necropolis Cemetery – Toronto, Ontario
• Fairview Cemetery – Halifax, Nova Scotia
• MacLaren Cemetery – Wakefield, Quebec
• Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal, Quebec
• Cataraqui Cemetery – Kingston, Ontario
• St. Boniface Cathedral Cemetery – Winnipeg, Manitoba
• Notre-Dame-des-Neiges- Montreal, Quebec
As the human population begins to grow, and land space continues to shrink, perhaps people will be forced to rethink ways to manage their dead. Perhaps architect Tom Wilson’s death pyramid will come to fruition after all.
Caitlin Doughty’s book is an excellent read if you wish to glean further information on other culture’s very respectful death rituals.
(Excerpts taken from my Eventbrite presentation “Graveyards- there is more than meets the eye” presented online on September 4, 2022)