Ash-scattering and memorial practices (outside of cemeteries, churchyards and burial grounds) have been a frequent dimension of this blog. The British landscape is peppered with informal memorials along paths, tracks and roadsides.
Here’s one example I posted a few years ago, from near Denbigh. I’ve discussed also how these memorials are often beside footpaths and tracks, but set apart, either downslope or upslope, but discrete from the main flow of human traffic: a private space in a public location. Are they secret? Or just special?
I recently encountered a striking example of this relationship between public path and more ‘private’ and informal location in a Woodland Trust managed landscape near Wrexham.
Beside the path is a bench, but into the woodland up-slope and away from the river behind it is a multi-dimensional memorial. The bench was already there, but serves to signpost the memorial, and as a place of repose and reflection in itself.
Set back and discrete from it, the tree is the focus and upon it are flowers tied. Further flowers were placed at the base of the tree on the downslope side. Both these floral offerings are ‘public’ in that they face the bench and path.
In addition, behind the tree is a smaller bouquet of flowers and some cards. This more privately positioned offering isn’t visible from the path and only by those who have approached the tree.
So this seemingly simple memorial has at least 5 components:
- the bench (co-opted as signpost and memorial dimension),
- the tree itself,
- flowers tied to the down-slope side,
- flowers placed by the foot of the down-slope side,
- flowers placed up-slope with cards.
So a seemingly simple offering has multiple dimensions, perhaps the result of not a single memorial act, but multiple offerings by different people mourning a loved one.