The Sea Their Graves:
An Archaeology of Death and Remembrance in Maritime Culture

David J. Stewart

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"A 'classic' of its type--the closest comparison is the legendary Weibust's Deep Sea Sailors, and I would hazard to suggest that this book may come to hold a similarly important place in the scholarship of maritime ethnography."--Joseph Flatman, author of Ships and Shipbuilding in Medieval Manuscripts

"This innovative study provides an important analysis of Anglo-American mariners' attitudes toward death, the dead, and commemoration. It will be valuable to all interested in historic maritime culture and mortuary practices, and reveals a distinctive mariner subculture which also influenced their families back home."--Harold Mytum, author of Mortuary Monuments and Burial Grounds of the Historic Period

Like other groups with dangerous occupations, mariners have developed a close-knit culture bound by loss and memory. Death regularly disrupts the fabric of this culture and necessitates actions designed to mend its social structure. From the ritual of burying a body at sea to the creation of memorials to honor the missing, these events tell us a great deal about how sailors see their world.
Based on a study of more than 2,100 gravestones and monuments in North America and the United Kingdom erected between the seventeenth and late twentieth centuries, David Stewart expands the use of nautical archaeology into terrestrial environments. He focuses on those who make their living at sea--one of the world's oldest and most dangerous occupations--to examine their distinct folkloric traditions, beliefs, and customs regarding death, loss, and remembrance.

David J. Stewart, assistant professor of nautical archaeology at East Carolina University, is a contributor to Burial at Sea.

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"An excellent book, well-written and nicely produced." … "A substantial contribution to our understanding of maritime culture during the Age of Sail." … "Essential reading for anyone interested in Western maritime culture." Journal of Anthropological Research

"Offers some remarkable and valuable insights into a seldom-explored area of maritime culture and belief." International Journal of Maritime History

"A pioneering study of a neglected component of Anglo-American maritime culture...convincingly demonstrates the centrality of death to maritime culture and will become required reading for anyone interested in Anglo-American maritime culture." Winterthur Portfolio

“Adroitly employs gravestones and memorials as material culture to reconstruct the maritime cultures of England and Anglo-America during the Age of Sail… Given its folkloric frame and the first research of its kind in the maritime arena, it will take its place as an ancillary to Beck’s seminal work, Folklore and the Sea.” American Antiquity

“Looks beyond the maritime folk group to examine changing attitudes towards death and remembrance in Anglo-American culture.” Sea History

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