Just over a year ago, I wrote about a nighttime visit to my local churchyard at night and in the snow. Last month, I conducted a daytime equivalent walk in comparable snowy conditions. As before, this post is simply to reflect on the distinctive aesthetics of a snow-covered churchyard. Snow temporarily transforms our environment, but it has particular effects on the appearance of graves and their environment in multiple ways.

The black and dark-grey stones of memorials are thrown into sharp relief against their white backdrop.


Vegetation – natural and augmented – is an integral part of our cemetery and churchyard environments – only snow temporarily negates its presence.

Traditional edges and borders are also obscured: paths are only partly apparent.

The flowers and the offerings – their colours, forms, textures and ornaments – are also thrown into a different light and contrast, against the backdrop and coverings of snow. This is most apparent in the youngest part of the churchyard where graves are recent and well-tended, some with low borders protecting the entire space.

Those areas hit by sunlight and where the snow has melted, stand out starkly in their fresh greenness of the grass and dark green of the yews and other evergreens.

Footprints are revealed too; suddenly the lack of visitors, and the trajectories of specific visitors are temporarily marked for all to see. Snow affords the opportunity to sense the visitors of the fresh graves – in this case me and my daughter – while the majority of the space that rarely receives foot-fall is starkly revealed by the lack of human footpritns: only those of cats, foxes and birds are revealed.