I’m a regular visitor to the beautiful and eerie ruins of the 13th-century castle imposed on a strategic point in the Vale of Llangollen over the remains of an earlier prehistoric hillfort: Castell Dinas Brân . This is a popular ash-scattering spot and I have previously posted about it here.
Last month, I revisited and I was struck by two major ash-spreads. As noted in my previous post, these are not randomly situated, but located with clear views out over the landscape of the Vale, the hills surrounding it, and the town below. One can imagine the situation, perhaps partly depending on wind-direction, of mourners standing on the very edge of the ruins and strewing the ashes on the slopes away from main routes of human foot traffic: private corners of a public spaces, looking out, looking down.
Such ephemeral means of disposal integrate the dead into ancient monuments, beauty spots and the wider natural landscape. I have observed how these are indeed being accompanied by wreaths and other memorial deposits, as well as small plaques. In these instances, however, it is simply the ash – product of burning and crushing – that populate the hilltop.
How many ash scatterings take place at the castle? How could we find out without regular monitoring?
What do they tell us? They show us the affinity of places of beautify and antiquity for the living and the dead, and their dialogues.
Who notices them? For me, they are the most visible visitor traces at these sites, apart from occasional pieces of litter and arrangements of stone to make initials and messages below the ruins. Maybe there are invisible to those not looking for them and aware of what they are.