Everything came together recently when I was out one morning with my kids visiting a park. We found the park closed as it was being rebuilt, so I persuaded the clan to explore the adjacent churchyard: one I hadn’t visited before! Thus, I had the amazing good fortune of recently exploring the churchyard of St Mary’s, Minera. The church, in its present form dattes to 1865-66. It long served the industrial community best-known for its lead mines. In strong low direct winter morning sunlight, the results were amazing for photography! While many tombs remained hidden in the shadows of large yew trees, a transect of the churchyard’s Victorian monuments were strikingly picked out and clear, lit from the south-east.

The range of forms, ornamentation, motifs and the propensity for Welsh language inscriptions are all distinctive features. In terms of form, as well as horizontal slabs, and a wide range of gravestones, there were obelisks and other tall monuments in profusion. In terms of motifs: the range of urns, vegetal and sun-ray designs stood out, as well as at least one book.

I was particularly struck but this distinctive monument in both its form and material: a columnar ceramic tomb to a young woman, situated close by the church. I don’t think I’ve seen its like elsewhere and I’m not quite sure how to describe it further.