Dead Clever: Don Praises Brainy Graveyard

A little known burial ground in Cambridge is reported to have the highest collective IQ in the world.

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Dr Mark Goldie, a Director of Studies and College Lecturer at Churchill, believes the Ascension Burial Ground has the highest IQ of any cemetery in the world.

“It’s a place that tells the story of Cambridge over the past 150 years: the rise of new disciplines, the struggle of women to be admitted, the opening up to all religions and none”, he said.

Goldie is a founding member of the group Friends of the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground, which aims to increase local awareness about the wealth of talent buried there.

The little known place of rest, which is situated on Huntingdon Road en route to Girton College, is unassuming but home to the dead brainy.

The most sought-out grave is that of Ludwig Wittgenstein, perhaps the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.

The tiny burial ground boasts three Nobel prizewinners, seven members of the Order of Merit, and over sixty people with entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: engineers, biologists, classicists, historians, poets and philosophers.

It also includes the burial ground of two sons and a granddaughter of Charles Darwin; the author who wrote the words for Land of Hope and Glory; and the astronomer who discovered (or, rather, predicted the existence of) the planet Neptune.

Another notable academic in the cemetery is Sir John Cockcroft, who split the atom in 1932, in the heyday of the great Cavendish Physics Lab, which produced a dozen Nobels.

Sir Arthur Eddington, portrayed in the 2007 BBC drama Einstein and Eddington by David Tennant, was the astrophysicist who made the crucial observations of a solar eclipse that confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. There’s a sprinkling of astronomers at the Ascension Burial Ground, because of the nearby university Observatory.