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Remembering the dead in the contemporary landscape. A memory tree #archaeology #Death #memory

♬ I Remember (Death in the Afternoon) – 2008 Remaster – Ultravox

In two previous blog-posts I’ve introduced the ‘memory tree’: an isolated windswept hawthron situated on a west-facing footpath in the popular country park on Hope Mountain (Waun y Llyn Country Park, Flintshire). The tree is a landscape memorial, acquiring a variety of memorial material cultures to its branches:

As the weeks, months and years pass by, the memory tree accrues more offerings: ribbons, flags, clothing (notably ties) and textual messages on cards and one on a plaque. I decided to not comment on a grammatically challenged memorial to a dead infant that was screwed to the tree a few years back, but in a recent TikTok video (above) I captured something of how the tree now appears.

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There are two striking additions: at the base, a memorial to a much-loved canine friend: after all this is a popular dog walking environment. The broken memorial to the dead infant presumably fell off the tree and has been respectfully placed next to it.

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Yet more distinctive still, I saw that appended to the tree is the first use of a mask as a memorial: tied to a branch and with the name of the deceased written across it. The mask is thus deployed to articulate something about the circumstances of the person’s demise during the coronavirus pandemic. This begs the question: how will material cultures of the lockdown permeate both landscape memorials but also cemeteries and gardens of remembrance in coming months?

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