"A little mysterious but not macabre"

Trip Advisor reviewers answer the question: "Why would I want to visit a cemetery?"

The Future Cemetery team have recently been considering who our project audiences should be.

Not only do we want to discover why people visit Arnos Vale, but to identify the barriers that prevent others from considering taking a trip to a cemetery. Is it a lack of awareness of the cemetery's existence, that it is open and welcomes visitors? Or is it that they don't see why they should spend their precious free time in a "city of the dead"?

Perhaps there are deeper cultural reasons at play, taboos associated with the cemetery as a liminal space between the living and the dead. These musings link in to our project aim to explore the ways in which people explore or confront mortality and consider their end-of-life options and posthumous memory.

Whatever the reasons, we hope that by finding out more about the non-audience, we will discover the barriers the Future Cemetery project could help remove, or at least quantify, for Arnos Vale Cemetery. So we've been discussing ways in which we might confront that classic conundrum: how do you identify people not visiting when they're, well, NOT visiting to tell you so? Watch this space as the conversation develops!

In the meantime, we should look to cemetery visitors and how they answer the question "Why should I visit a Cemetery?"

What's clear is that people value word-of-mouth recommendations far better than venue marketing.

An Arnos Vale trustee has just directed me to the cemetery's page on Trip Advisor, where Arnos Vale rates #7 out of 94 attractions in Bristol, and all the 20 reviews are either "very good" or "excellent". The comments give a really valuable insight into our existing visitors, how they perceive the cemetery and their varied reasons for visiting - surely a good place to start...!


Trip Advisor logoComments vary from focus on the peaceful atmosphere, to the green space, to the wealth of social history. But comments often seem to suggest the visitors don't feel part of the mainstream, that they need to explain their conversion to a cemetery visitor as a fringe interest to a potentially critical audience. My favourite summary reads: "Dead interesting - honest!"