Source and activity 4
Gravestone at Westminster Abbey
[NLS reference: MS.42442]
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Memorials and gravestones serve to give people a permanent reminder of a person in their best light.
They can be simple or elaborate and often the person has no control over what is written or created to commemorate them after they die.
Remembering a national hero
Sometimes, the way people die becomes better known than what they achieved in life.
Look at this image of David Livingstone's gravestone. Almost every space is taken up with inscriptions. The fact that he’s buried in Westminster Abbey tells us he’s someone who is revered and important even over 100 years later.
Putting a hero into words
What are some of the descriptions used in this gravestone to give us that impression?
How important do you think the language used for the final resting place of a national hero is?
Is the language used here serious or emotional? How are we supposed to feel after reading this? Proud, intimidated, inspired?
If you didn't know anything about David Livingstone and only read his gravestone, what impression would you get of him?
Find out more about David Livingstone in NLS collections
The David Livingstone collections are listed under ‘L’ in our Guide to Manuscripts Collections
Search the John Murray Archive catalogue for material relating to David Livingstone.