Along Svalbard's cold coastlines lie nearly 1,000 graves – silent memorials of human destinies and those who remained behind when their colleagues returned southwards, towards warmer winds. Most of the graves date from the whaling era in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Death was a frequent visitor.The dead were laid to rest in coffins, often on a layer of sawdust. The coffins were plain, but made with good materials and often lined with a thin fabric. The dead were fully clad when buried, and they were sometimes covered with a woollen blanket. In some graves pillows filled with feathers have been found under the deceased’s head, and in several coffins moss from the deceased’s homeland has been found scattered around the body. It was as if the dead were to be kept warm and comfortable in a world that was otherwise cold and uninviting.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography