Life in Newburgh on Ythan

By Talpa

The kiss of death

Just back from Aberdeen where I gave a lunch time talk entitled "Echoes of the Resurrection Men", an overview of grave robbing in Victorian Scotland. The talk was part of "Kiss of Death: death and mourning in the Victorian era", an exhibition mounted by Aberdeen City Council. 

A woman who was closely related to the deceased (like a wife or mother) was expected to dress in deep mourning for a full year. During this time, her clothing could only be made of fabrics which lacked colour or shine. Only black crape trim was allowed, while feathers, beads, and hat flowers were forbidden. This absence of decoration was meant to show how a mourner was consumed with her deep sorrow instead of her appearance.

After the first year of mourning, a woman had more freedom choosing her clothing. During the following year which was known as "half-mourning," a woman could begin to wear hats again, unlike in deep mourning, when she would have only worn a simple bonnet with a long crape veil. Colours like grey and purple were also allowed. The photograph is of a purple dress that would have been worn during half mourning.

The exhibition is based in the Maritime Museum; the "extra" is the view from the museum across to the harbour and shows a couple of offshore supply vessels with the Shetland ferry in the background.

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