Deputy head's chilling tome-stone stories from local graveyards

31st October 2008 at 00:00

Generations of writers have been inspired by Wales's graveyards and their lichen-covered tombstones. But for one English teacher, thereal-life stories of those laid to rest in them are just as fascinating.

Geoff Brookes, deputy head of Cefn Hengoed Community School in Swansea, is poised to publish his first collection of Welsh tales, based entirely on his research into tombstones.

Stories in Welsh Stone tells the tales of 15 people, mostly young women, who met untimely or interesting deaths. Mr Brookes, who has lived in Wales for 27 years but was born in Sheffield, believes there is a fascinating story behind each headstone he visits.

"I always wondered what lives these people had led," he said. "It's not necessarily about death. It's about life and the stories of dramatic lives that need to be preserved."

The first story begins with the "murder stone" of a young woman who died while pregnant in 1822. Her grave faces the place where her presumed killer once lived.

Mr Brookes is an established author, having written books on the special educational needs of dyspraxic pupils, the poet Seamus Heaney and a guide to being a successful deputy head.

He is careful to separate his writing and teaching careers, but said many of the stories were still relevant to young people today.

"What you discover is that people remain the same and have to deal with the same pressures and problems. Lots of the gravestones are for young women who were pregnant," he said. He encourages his pupils to write about their lives and family histories. "Everyone has an interesting story," he said.

Stories in Welsh Stone is published tomorrow by Welsh Country.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now