Death in the Landscape

I was on a trip to the Island of Rhodes, 18 years ago, when I noticed these wooden boxes dotted quite frequently along the roadside.  Little shrines on stakes, many with glass fronts, although some had been lost over the years exposing the delicate contents to the mercy of the elements.

Most contained religious iconography, crosses, pictures of Jesus or the Virgin Mary.  There were also personal items confined within too, teddy bears, flowers, jewellery, photographs of loved ones that had been lost.  Victims of road accidents.  And with each one came sadness.

Those images stayed with me and I have occasionally thought about them.  Who had been lost? Why do they construct these shrines?  Is it not a constant reminder of their lost loved ones?

We do something similar over here.  Thankfully not as prolific.  But we do, and not just for road accidents.  Murders, suicide, we mark the spot.  Death in the landscape.  Mourning used to be kept behind closed doors, now it is out in the open.

Where and when did the trend start?  Did markers for death used to be only for the famous? This is where Marc Bolan crashed his car, this is where Richard the Third was killed, this is where………