Recently the Dundee Howff Conservation Group updated their profile photo to one of their most distinctive headstones on what serendipitously transpired to be the 320th anniversary of the late George Weaver’s passing.
The stone as you can see is only partially preserved and has suffered much physical damage/decay. Despite this obvious fragmentation, one very interesting feature remains; the simplistic memento mori motif located on the secondary surface of the stone. I call it secondary as the initial focus on most stones is the front facing surface overlooking the departed in repose.
I also call this post serendipitous for an entirely different reason. Recently I have come across a number of stones that have had additional motifs and inscriptions located to the rear of the stone. Harold Mytom has recorded such instances of this secondary memento mori in Northern Irish graveyard surveys (2002 and 2003; see also Mary B. Timony, 2005, ‘Had Me Made’ for discussion). This practice is not limited of course to the type of motif illustrated above as I have also encountered examples of occupational motifs in Ballybeg, Co. Waterford. It is a welcome reminder that the commemorative tradition is not simply defined by a single facet, but the sum of all parts whether they reveal themselves to us fully or not.
It is wonderful to see a commemorative practice being transformed through a digital medium and suggests a reassuring thought that we can share in a family’s desire to have their loved ones honoured and remembered, long after even their time has passed.
To the late George Weaver and the loved ones who saw fit to honour your memory, now weather worn and ethereal, a thought for the faithful departed, a digital prayer, a perpetual light for future conjuring.