Over 50 people attended ‘The Beautiful Burial Ground Conference’ held Plas Tan Y Bwlch on 22nd May 2013, The Snowdonia National Park Study Centre at Maentwrog on Tuesday.
The conference, organised by the conservation charity Caring for God's Acre drew participants came from across North Wales to hear leading experts in the various aspects of burial ground conservation.
Churchwardens, local authority officers, conservation organisations and community councils involved in the care of a church or chapel yard, cemetery or burial ground attended the one day event. Speakers included Fred Hageneder, the leading expert on yew trees, Iwan Edwards from North Wales Wildlife Trust, Emily La Trobe-Bateman of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust and John Winton, Churches Tourism Network Wales.
A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund is enabling Caring for God's Acre (CfGA) to run conferences across Wales and England. Andrea Gilpin, conference organiser said ‘We have had such an enthusiastic response from across Wales for advise and support we decided to launch the four year project here in Wales’.
There are a huge number of churchyards and burial sites in Wales – areas which have remained virtually unchanged for generations, allowing plants and animals to flourish alongside the historic monuments and memorials, creating valuable ‘living sanctuaries within the heart of our communities.
More recently created sites such as new green burial sites and new cemeteries provide an opportunity to create attractive 'wildlife-friendly' sites, thus benefiting both the local environment and visitors.
After this conference the charity will continue giving advice and support to groups via its helpline and advice materials which are available bilingually. Four burial grounds in Wales are to be chosen to act as case studies and the charity will visit and record their progress over the four years. Rural skills training such as stone walling and plant surveying will also be offered.
It was the Welsh King Hywel Dda who in 943, just over a thousand years ago, first prescribed an area of one acre for burial.
Caring for God's Acre, set up as a charity in 2000, has The Prince of Wales as its President. It champions the conservation of burial sites of all kinds, seeking grants to develop special projects which help deliver its work. It is a membership charity, which individuals and community groups are welcome to join. There is a helpful website at www.caringforgodscare.org.uk providing useful information on conservation management and the charity's activities.