Mapping a Million Graveyards

Last Halloween, I was blown away by Joshua Stevens’ Graveyards of the Contiguous USA. Very often, mapping individual locations of attractions just creates, essentially, a population-density map, and it was really exciting to see one that didn’t. I also loved seeing the traces of the country’s history in the unusual distribution of graveyards.

This Halloween, I decided to make my variation on the theme: the Graveyards of Europe!

Final

As with the original map, I sourced my data from OpenStreetMap. Unfortunately, it does seem like the data is relatively incomplete, and I had to exclude many countries that looked suspiciously sparse. If you zoom in, particularly on France, you can see how graveyards are being mapped in a grid-like fashion, leaving many empty squares to hopefully be filled in later.

However, even with my data struggles, I found this to be a compelling map. It shows an incredible 1,125,576 graveyards across 21 countries.

The median location in the mapped area is only 8.8km (5.5 mi) away from a graveyard. That number includes the countryside, of course. In cities of over 300,000 residents,  the median distance to a graveyard from any given point is a mere 1.6km (1mi)! As an American, that boggles my mind.

A very noticeable swath of cemeteries stretches from northwestern Germany, through Belgium, and into France. This does appear to follow Germany’s invasion of France in WWII, but my knowledge of that era is average at best–I’d love to know this pattern is a result of that campaign or just a coincidence.

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