Across all peoples, places and times, communities distinguish themselves by how they care for their dead.
The rituals and customs they adopt for their dearly departed provide a valuable insight into what really matters to them, and how much the desire that their family members and friends are not forgotten, but remain remembered within their landscape, close to them and their community.
The Stockton Breakwater (or Breakwall) is a modern manifestation of this fundamental human need to create some kind of remembrance through a series of memorials that have been installed all along the Breakwater, by the local Stockton people, who have found a new way to remember their departed loved ones, through a local funerary folk custom of decorating selected rocks that make up the Breakwater, so that visitors and locals alike can learn about the people that once lived in their community.
Using a chosen rock, the memorials have been crafted and decorated through paintings, shells, stones, motifs and adorned with flowers. Some are rudimentary, others more stylistic; some professionally created on permanent materials, others makeshift and temporary. All carry heartfelt messages and information relating to people that are no longer with us, but were once a feature of the Stockton landscape.
The Stockton Breakwater was always known as a graveyard for vessels, a maritime hazard due to the presence of the infamous Stockton Oyster Bank, which, throughout the nineteenth century, brought many a ship to its watery grave. With these uniquely crafted memorials it has now become something much more.