Looking back over recent posts, I realise how many of them depict stone monuments; gravestones, churches, wells, castles, abbeys etc etc. Stone can be painted, stone can be augmented with coloured materials, but stone itself is a rich and variety material with different textures and patinas, different colours and temperatures.
In this spirit, I’d like to take you back to some photographs I took in Overleigh cemetery, Chester, during student fieldwork with level 6 (third-year) University of Chester students in the spring of this year. Not only do these photographs bring out the rich greens of grass and trees, and the greys of shadows that fall across gravestones in direct light.
There are also colours in the mosses and lichens (greens, browns and whites) that adhere to them. There are also the greys of inlaid lead lettering too.
Then there are the different colours inherent in the material selected, the greys of slate, the whites of marble, the red-brown of the old red sandstone…
In combination, these dimensions, shifting with the light of the day, the seasons and the years, write time onto gravestones. Moreover, the interplay between memorials shows off their shared materials and those that opt to be distinctive and different in colour as well as other dimensions.
There won’t be a survey at Overleigh in 2016; instead my third-year students are organising a conference on a mortuary theme. Still, I think that alongside variability in form, size, ornamentation and text, the colours and textures of stone have much to tell us about changing aesthetics and technologies in mortuary commemoration in 19th-century Britain.