During a visit to St Patrick’s chapel, Heysham for the Heysham Viking Festival, I witnessed recent floral deposits in association with each of the two spaces of rock-cut graves. For their significance, see my earlier post here. It seems that the prevailing heritage narrative is that these were vessels to receive relics, rather than normal graves. Yet the anthropomorphic shape of the rock-cut graves suggests an association with now-absent, articulated human bodies. Notably, it is at the head-end where the flowers have been placed.
While I have expressed my scepticism of the ‘relics’ narrative, the offerings of flowers, as upon recent graves, is a rare example of attempts to honour the early medieval dead through votives that I’m aware of, and certainly the only one that is related to rock-cut graves where the bodies are implied but absent.
There are two bouquets with the two eastern rock-cut graves. Seemingly six arranged in the same socket in association with the six western rock-cut graves. So eight for eight: hardly coincidental?