In previous posts I’ve explored the various avian associations with death in recent and contemporary culture, including birds on gravestones and birds in the cemetery environment. I’ve even explored avian inspirations and associations with mortuary architecture, and the avian associations of ancient monuments too, including Stonehenge. These together constitute a ‘cemetery ornithology’, as discussed here, here, here, and here.
Recently I visited Wrexham cemetery and saw another visual interplay between live bird and ornamentation. In this case it was a cranky-looking (is there any other kind?) herring gull. Most strikingly, the draped urn upon which it balanced to watch me pass by was adjacent to a prominent late 19th-century monument topped with a dove taking flight.
It again, made me reflect on tombs as perches from whence both birds and souls are thought to take flight.
And from a broader heritage perspective, of course (and apologies if you have already noted this in other posts), cemeteries have been identified as important refuge habitats for birds and other wildlife facing ecological threats elsewhere. Many local schemes – Caring for God’s Acre, Living Churchyards and Cemeteries, etc., – have been specifically designed to promote, protect and enhance both the historic and green heritage of burying grounds.