This article builds on recent work on memory and place in the social sciences. One emphasis in the literature on ‘Western’ forms of social memory has been on official, intentional sites of commemoration, such as war memorials and monuments. Based on fieldwork in the north of England with older residents of a former coal mining village, I approach social memory from a different perspective, emphasising the work of memory and its complex interactions with place, absence, social relations and social rupture. Like Village on the Border, this research has taken place in a setting that has undergone significant socio-economic change: the closure of the South Yorkshire coalfields. The embeddedness of local knowledge in social relations emerge in both Ronnie Frankenberg's work and my own and I explore these topics here in connection with what I term a ‘three-dimensionality of memory’.