IMG_20160810_142907 In previous posts, I’ve identified the dynamic of private vs. public played out in the locations selected for ash-scatterings and memorials in contemporary landscape locations. See, for example, my discussions on memorial benches here at Ty Mawr Country Park, Wrexham; a variety of locations in the Vale of LlangollenWittenham Clumps, Oxfordshire; the Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Holy Island; and on the Isle of Man. I’ve specifically addressed the appropriation of archaeological sites in this regard, as at the Gop Cairn, Flintshire. See also my discussion of roadside memorials.

DSC07515I’ve recently encountered two striking memorials in different locations, but both to elderly females,and each situated to enjoy stunning views over the Vale of Llangollen. They are different in form; one is a tree memorial with a range of offerings as for a grave, and one is a tiny plaque installed using concrete upon a very steep slope.

In addition to sharing in the age and gender of those commemorated and the fashion of their installation in landscape contexts with stunning views, they also share in a degree of secrecy. By this, I mean that they are concealed beside, but slightly off, major walking trails. They are easy to find, but difficult to spot. The slope memorial is near invisible unless one is looking downwards for it hidden on the steep slope, rather than outwards at the view. Meanwhile, the tree memorial is right beside a trail, but on the downward (view-facing) side of the tree out of sight from the main path.

This seems to be a pattern in mortuary commemoration in the contemporary landscapes of Britain; location close to, not at, specific popular nodes and views. Simultaneously ‘secret’ or ‘concealed’ and ‘prominent’ and ‘landscape-orientated’, such memorials sit in tension between public and private. I doubt either were installed with permission of the landowner, and yet they will probably persist for a long time, protected by respect and indifference alike from those passing, and by their careful choice of emplacement.

DSC07520Note: given the very specific nature of these memorials, and their recent character, I’ve decided to pixelate out the names and days of birth and death.

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