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January 2024

Main Title:  Leith Harbour Cemetery gravestone former
Object Title: Gravestone Former
Object Number: 2019.11
The cross former on display in the Museum

We’re always keen to get objects in our museum stores out on display!  This gravestone cross former came into the collections in 2019 having been collected from the Leith Harbour whaling station. It has been in storage above the Grytviken Post Office since. During our project in December to move the Large Object Store into the main museum building, we were able to get some of the objects out of storage and on display in the museum.

The gravestone former is a wooden mould into which cement would be poured and set to make simple gravestones.

Detail of the cross former

The dangers of the whaling industry led to many deaths on the island and the need for cemeteries at each of the whaling stations. This cross former was used to create gravestones for Leith Harbour cemetery.

Unusually there are two cemeteries at Leith. The earlier, smaller, cemetery was once on a bare hillside, but following a deadly avalanche that destroyed part of the original whaling station, the station was moved and the area around the old cemetery filled up with barrack buildings to house the hundreds of men employed at the station through the summer. The later, larger, cemetery was established on the edge of the new whaling station and 57 people were buried there between 1917 and 1961. Several of the crosses in the cemetery may have been made using this former.

The newer and larger cemetery at Leith Harbour. Image

Information about the cemeteries, graves, and deaths at South Georgia can be found at

To see the Large Object Store move in action please enjoy our recent blog: