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Monument and material reuse at the National Memorial Arboretum

  • Howard Williams

Exploring the relocation and reuse of fragments and whole artefacts, materials and monuments in contemporary commemorative memorials in the United Kingdom (UK), this paper focuses on the National Memorial Arboretum (Alrewas, Staffordshire, hereafter NMA). Within this unique assemblage of memorial gardens, reuse constitutes a distinctive range of material commemoration. Through a detailed investigation of the NMA's gardens, this paper shows how monument and material reuse, while used in very different memorial forms, tends to be reserved to commemorate specific historical subjects and themes. Monument and material reuse is identified as a form of commemorative rehabilitation for displaced memorials and provides powerful and direct mnemonic and emotional connections between past and present in the commemoration through peace memorials, of military disasters and defensive actions, the sufferings of prisoners of war, and atrocities inflicted upon civilian populations. In exploring monument and material reuse to create specific emotive and mnemonic fields and triggers, this paper engages with a hitherto neglected aspect of late 20th- and early 21st-century commemorative culture.

Corresponding author
*Howard Williams, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Chester, UK. Email:
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Archaeological Dialogues
  • ISSN: 1380-2038
  • EISSN: 1478-2294
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