Recording the monument in Copmanthorpe
Part of the approach to understanding the past taken by archaeologists is to see things as part of a landscape. This landscape is inhabited and changed by people who live in it. When we build memorials to those we have lost we create part of a landscape. We create a memorial, a stone, a park, a hall, a window or maybe a plaque that we can look at, visit and sometimes march to or gather at. This is a landscape of remembrance.
Of course the landscapes that we create is made in a place that already has a past, other meanings and uses for us. David found this in his research in Acomb. The war memorial was placed on Acomb Green in a location that was once far more peripheral to the village. This area was once common ground and was dug out for sand. From the 19th century, however, it became increasingly developed with new houses and a large vicarage being built for St Stephen's Church. An area that had once been essentially a quarry started to become a pleasant open space that attracted the rising middle class of Acomb. It became a communal spot where people from different backgrounds and religious denominations could come together to remember and was on a important routeway from York to Wetherby.
Chris and his team from Fulford and Fishergate areas, southern suburbs of York, noted that they too were located on an important route into York from Selby to the south. The memorial at St Oswald's Church commemorates the men of both places. The area had an exceptionally high number of casualties with many families living in the area having close ties to the Fulford Barracks.
In our research we have found that many monuments are located on routeways, either associated with church buildings or standing at junctions or other prominent places on the roadside. We found examples of this at Sand Hutton and Claxton memorial, Bishopthorpe, Copmanthorpe and the Rowntree's Memorial on Haxby Road.
Other memorials are deliberately created as a landscape, in particular memorial gardens and parks. In everyday life such gardens are not seen as memorials by most of the people who use them for day-to-day life. Alison researched the memorial gardens in York, where at a ceremony on 16th July 1921 Rowntree and Co. Ltd presented to the city the park and adjoining playing fields to act as a memorial to all those members of the company who had suffered as a result of the First World War. A plaque within the lychgate at Rowntree Park records the purpose of the gift. In 1954 a set of eighteenth century wrought iron gates was acquired by the Rowntrees to commemorate the fallen of the Second World War.
Much has changed since the inauguration of the park but one component that has survived is the flock of white doves installed in the dovecote in 1921 whose descendants still occupy their original home. A more recent development has been the creation of the Friends of Rowntree Park, set up in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Their aim is to remember the purpose of this popular park by holding a birthday party every year on, or as near as possible to, 16th July.