Traces of the contemporary dead punctuate our roads and lanes. Also, offerings are placed along rights of way and long-distance footpaths. This latest example is interesting to me because it lies on Offa’s Dyke Path. I’m in the process of concocting a project to explore and enhance awareness of the memorial dimensions of footpaths in the contemporary landscape, and this route is a likely case study.
The location of the deposition of the flowers is clearly because it is a beautiful spot and it is on a principal walking path – Offa’s Dyke Path – up the side of Moel Fenlli. However, I suspect there are more precise reasons for this specific location when the flowers could have been placed anywhere on the hillside.
The position selected enjoys northerly views out towards the Vale of Clwyd. Another key dimension to the location is that it is in a scoop – an archaeological feature of some form, perhaps the site of a former shepherd’s hut or quarrying: this means it is out of the wind and has natural parameters. It is also easily remembered for multiple visitations over an extended duration. Combined with this relative sheltered position in a blustery hillside, the location is just prior to a marked change in the steepness of the hillside – in other words it is positioned just prior to the steepest section of the ascent. The steep walk up the hillside, suggesting this might be a compromise location for those with impaired walking abilities to travel further up the path. Put these factors and we can infer that these are anniversary floral offerings, perhaps on an ash-scattering site.
There are two further points to make. First, this contrasts with the ‘commemorative’ cairns on top of the summits of the Clwydians, including Moel Fenlli, which denote anonymous deposits made by walkers.
Second, I conducted a short roundabout walk up and down Moel Fenlli with my kids: by the time we’d returned, a third bouquet of flowers had joined the other two. And so the anonymous deposits allow the path and the landscape receive and perpetuate memories of the dead, clearly left by different groups of mourners at different times during the anniversary of an individual’s death.