I have a particular fascination with photographing ruins. While doing so, I cannot help but take snaps of all the heritage boards. I do this as an aide memoire but also as a visual souvenir of my visit and because the images and text are heritage artefacts in their own right. Sometimes they are even a useful for teaching archaeology and heritage, revealing contemporary approaches and interpretations and sometimes fossilising ideas and interpretations of monuments that are decades old.
I confess I also photograph warning signs of death and disaster at heritage sites; even if it is the same sign I have seen elsewhere, I MUST photograph each one. It is the mortuary trainspotter in me. This is all pretty sad stuff.
Still, they are obviously part of the visitor experience, punctuating engagement with the ruins. Sometimes they are there to be heeded, other times to be ignored. What is equally interesting is that there are no signs for some of the other hazards – heritage sites don’t seem to have a warning sign for falling off battlements for example or warning of steep slopes that might be a hazard to pushchair and wheelchair users. Nettles are also no hazard it seems. It is main slipping and cracking heads on stone that are their principal concerns.
I wonder if this will change in the future? I would be happy to work up some further designs for them. After all, there are still some surfaces of their protected ruins yet to be plastered with warning signs and new hazards must be created and signs fixed.
Cadw have a fabulous range to warn visitors of the dangers of visiting their sites and monuments but I don’t think I have ever before seen them all utilised at the same site. A recent visit to Dinefwr Castle, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, prompts me to claim that I might have ‘spotted’ most of them! Lucky me! Well, it is certainly a good collection! Here is what I found. Note the different patinas, fixing methods and subtle differences in the designs!
I sincerely hope no-one has visited Dinefwr and hurt themselves. I also sincerely hope these signs have prevented accidents. Particularly, I hope no-one has ever grazed an elbow or hit their head on a sign…. Still, I find them interesting also as a material record of our late 20th/early 21st-century culture of ruin-visiting and accidental avoidance. Health and safety folks!