The 8A English class has been studying the novel The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book is the story of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens who is raised by the inhabitants of an historic graveyard in London after his family is murdered. Although it has an unusual premise and some other-worldly characters this is a great book for exploring concepts around our understanding of fear and the acceptance of others.
As part of our study we visited the Canowindra Cemetery where Ms Heather Nicholls from Cabonne Council showed us around and told us some of the history of cemeteries generally and Canowindra specifically.
Did you know we can track when the railways came to an area or the history of bathroom tiles through looking at materials used to mark graves? The oldest graves are usually marked with a sandstone headstone. A marble headstone will be more recent as it would have relied upon train transportation to get to Canowindra. Some graves have markers made of metal and some no markings at all. Some graves are decorated with figures and ornaments which can hold religious or symbolic significance. And yes, some are decorated using bathroom tiles! Unfortunately, due to the choice of material graves can breakdown with time and regardless of how old a grave is it remains the property of, and the responsibility of, the descendants of the person buried there.
Ms Nicholls told us some stories about the inhabitants of our local graveyard which really highlighted the hardships faced by people in the past. Some students were able to add their own stories
through their family’s personal connection to the cemetery.
It was interesting for us to consider the similarities and differences found at the Canowindra Cemetery compared with the graveyard described in the novel. The class has since used some of what they learnt as stimulus for creative writing.
The class and I thank Ms Nicholls for giving up her time to share her passion for cemeteries. I would like to thank the class for their good humour in undertaking the walk to the cemetery on what turned out to be quite a hot afternoon!
Head Teacher English