Site level

A sample of Pembrokeshire graveyards were investigated to understand how they have developed and to identify the changes in monument types, materials, decoration and form of text over time. As such these were fine examples of rural and small town graveyards where the material remains can also be compared with patterns of burial recorded in the parish burial registers.

Denomination and language

Two important themes of the research related to identity:

  • the attendance at nonconformist or Anglican churches was an important social marker in 19th- and 20th-century Wales
  • the graveyards of a range of denominations have been recorded and compared.

Regional level

An important 19th century regional style has been identified in West Wales. The pedimented form of headstone is a complex artefact made from many separately carved elements. It is widespread in the Welsh-speaking areas of North Pembrokeshire, western Carmarthenshire, and Cardiganshire. A large sample of these monuments was recorded and preliminary results have been published.

Through supplementary documentary research we will discover what social classes innovated with this method of churchyard commemoration. Thus questions about the social context of gravestone change, the changing meanings of symbols will be investigated.

This research programme continues to make significant contributions to current debates in historical archaeology, particularly on the the changing role of material culture in an increasingly consumerist culture, and in the study of individual and group identity. It forms part of a larger research programme examining mortuary behaviour in the historic period.


This project was funded by the following institutions:


  • H Mytum 2006 'Popular attitudes to memory, the body, and social identity: the rise of external commemoration in Britain, Ireland, and New England'. Post-medieval Archaeology 40,1, 96-110
  • H Mytum 2004 Mortuary Monuments and Burial Grounds of the Historic Period. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York
  • H Mytum 2002 'A Comparison of Nineteenth and Twentieth century Anglican and Nonconformist Memorials in North Pembrokeshire'. The Archaeological Journal 159, 194-241
  • H Mytum 2000 Recording and Analysing Graveyards. York, Council for British Archaeology Practical Handbooks in Archaeology 15
  • H Mytum 1999 'Welsh cultural identity in nineteenth-century Pembrokeshire: the pedimented headstone as a graveyard monument'. In S Tarlow and S West (eds) The Familiar Past? Archaeologies of later historical Britain. London, Routledge, 215-230
  • H Mytum 1999 'The language of death in a bilingual community: 19th-century memorials in Newport, Pembrokeshire'. In R. Blench and M. Spriggs (eds.) Language and Archaeology III. London: Routledge, 211-230

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