St Michael’s Caerwys
Sundial in churchyard
Llamas meet the twins
The main path to the church lined with old gravestones lain flat
Twins testing the memorials for safety

Today my twins and I visited St Michael’s church, Caerwys, Flintshire. We parked outside the church and said hello to sheep and llamas in the neighbouring field.

We briefly explored the churchyard and we saw a pattern of churchyard memorialisation discussed nearby as Dyserth. The only notable non-memorial feature in the churchyard is a sundial.

We enjoyed looking at the older gravestones, including some striking, tall urn memorials. We also noted the strategy of placing old gravestones along the sides of the principal paths around the church.

Prominent urn-topped memorial dating to the 1860s.
More urn-topped memorials of the final decade of the 19th century
Exploring the paths, memorials laid flat and yew trees
Another view of the path with

Furthermore, we were particularly interested in seeing strategies for making memorials safe, including the removal of urns and their placing at the foot of the grave. It is so important when 2-year-olds are present that they test every memorial for safety and every floral offering for integrity.

Memorial with urn placed at its base


A toppled gravestone awaiting repair
Second view of same memorial

Meanwhile, a very recent 1960s gravestone was found knocked over. This looked equally deliberate and presumably it has been left in this way as a temporary measure until it is safely reconsolidated. Note: we didn’t do this: honest!

The newest graves are situated to the west of the churchyard


We also explored the extension of the churchyard to the east, and the newest memorials over the cremated dead, situated to the west, outside the western entrance of the church. As previously discussed, it is the cremated dead that allow churchyards to be regenerated, and those areas closest to the church can come back into use after decades. I have discussed this before, for example, in relation to Pennant Melangell. Here though, we find a different pattern, with a clear bifurcation between new memorials and newist memorials between the east and west of the churchyard. In between the older graves remain intact, while others have been rearranged for safety and thus embellishing the paths. I am researching both broader trends and microhistories of recent churchyard use, so examples like this are very interesting to me.

Snowdrops among the graves
We were being watched: llama over the churchyard wall

It was heartening to see snowdrops out amidst the graves, and rather bizarre to see a llama watching us over the wall. It seems ivy is edible to llamas, but it also looked keen to gnaw at toddler fingers too. We said hello but kept our distance from llama teeth.

Twin testing memorials for safety
Twins pay their respects