Thursday, May 28, 2015

Death and slate

click photo to enlarge
I was reading a piece recently wherein a writer was arguing that all mankind's actions are motivated, in some way or other, by the knowledge that we will all die. That this characteristic, one that distinguishes us from all other living beings, lies behind all that we do. Every action, no matter how important or trivial seeks to divert us from the thought of death, convince ourselves that we can transcend death, or prompts us to leave a record of ourselves that will last beyond the act of dying. I paraphrase rather crudely, but that was the gist of it.

That article came to mind when I was checking up on the progress of the repair of the spire at St Wulfram, Grantham. The usual entrance through the west door is not available due to scaffolding and a temporary path leads round to a door on the south side. This takes you through an area of the graveyard that surrounds the church where slate memorials predominate. Green Swithland slate, purple-tinged slate, grey slate and slate with a hint of blue can all be seen. Oolitic limestone is also present, but it is slate that catches the eye. The gravestones made of this material date from around 1760 through to the second half of the nineteenth century. And, the fact that they are made of slate means that they can still be easily read, the incisions almost as sharp as the day they were cut two hundred and fifty years ago. I've said elsewhere in this blog, and I'll repeat it again: if you want a tangible memorial to tell the world of your existence then it's hard to do better than a piece of inscribed slate placed somewhere that will not be disturbed.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 116mm (232mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On