Death has been a source of grief and uncertainty for humanity throughout history, but it has also been the inspiration for a plethora of fascinating customs and much human creativity. This talk with Dr Helen Frisby, author of the Shire book Traditions of Death and Burial, explores English death and burial customs from the Norman Conquest right through to the present day and the impact of Covid-19. From winding-sheets to funeral bells, angels to the Alexa Ghostbot, together we’ll discover how ritual continues helping us to relate to the dead, in ways which are at once innovative yet also draw upon the past in sometimes surprising ways.
Helen has taught history at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and funeral directing at the University of Bath. She is Secretary of the Association for the Study of Death and Society, and a Council Member of the Folklore Society. Helen has previously appeared on BBC Radio and The History Channel, and remains research active in the area of death, funerals and bereavement, past and present.