Here’s the lychgate – or lich-gate or lyke gate – in Amesbury’s old cemetery. A lychgate is a small shelter or house where the living and the dead wait together before a burial.
There is some strangeness in the Old English for the dead body – lic – sounding now so much like like, like sameness, like fondness. This lychgate and its neon lichen will offer shelter only three or four more times before the cemetery is full and closed.
But even then, the lychgate continues to be an odd little dwelling made by the living for the dead who, in turn, make this a space for the living. We continue to walk here, read the names on the stones, move through the trees, take a quick breather after visiting the park just along the same path.
As in the overlapping circles of Stonehenge and Woodhenge out on the edge of town, here an avenue of conifers guides the living through the gravestones to a great slow oak and back to the lychgate and – just like that! – back out into the world.