Thursday, 12 January 2017

Wednesday 11 November 2017

The atrocious weather - high winds and rain - kept us indoors today. So we were busy typing up the individual reference forms for each headstone - with the measurements, locations, and brief descriptions of each memorial. These forms will be filed with the photographs of each memorial, as a record of the field notes made on them. 
Lunch break

Later we will add biographical notes for each interment. And the analysis of the data using a database will be a later phase. 
Sleeping on the job ....

Lots of work still to do then.... 

Jane Lunnon

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Happy New Year to everyone.

We’ve been taking a Christmas and New Year break from working in St Mary’s churchyard but we are now looking forward to a busy 2017 with more gravestones, more data, and more liaison with other taphophiles!

I couldn’t completely forget all about gravestones over the festive season, I have to admit. On our annual visit to family down south over New Year, I demonstrated RTI technique to members of a local history group, and hopefully they will now be proposing a churchyard survey to their committee. Which is wonderful because their West Sussex churchyard has some lovely early 18thC examples – most are illegible to the naked eye.
Sussex Headstone - winged death's head can be seen but the inscription is totally invisible

On the three examples we shot with RTI they came up with wonderful images which astonished and excited them.

Inscription revealed
It would be fabulous if we could share our enthusiasm and experience with this group further.

I also visited another churchyard in Sussex – The gravestones in Tangmere are fascinating. Not only are there the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones for a number of German pilots, but there are wonderful examples of “body stones”, and brick mounds.
Brick-built body mounds at Tangmere
So, now we look forward to another year of studying gravestones in the Yorkshire Dales – there is still a little bit of field work to do at St Mary’s, Embsay, finishing off a few more photographs and plotting of un-marked graves; but work must also continue apace on the data analysis and reference forms.

Jane Lunnon

Monday, 5 December 2016

Wednesday 30th November 2016

Bitterly cold today – but a beautiful day nonetheless.
So we cracked on – if only to keep warm. Meanwhile, Peter and Tony hung a large silver star from the roof inside the church – they had an ingenious pulley system set up, which was handy, as they had to take the star down and hang it back – the right way up this time!
A few gravestones on the north side needed photographing with RTI, and there are quite a few un-marked graves on the south side which needed to be photographed, recorded and plotted in.
White flags over some of the un-marked graves -
ready to photograph & plot onto the churchyard plan
We so nearly finished the field survey today! All the RTI is now done, and we just have a few un-marked plots on the south side to measure in, and then the field work is all done!
There’s a real sense of achievement – we celebrated by having a jolly lunch at the Elm Tree Inn.

So, now we can think seriously about the next phase of the project – data entry and analysis. What to do with all those photos and all that data?

We’ve already found we are receiving many more family history enquiries since we started this project, and we are able to provide much more accurate information in response.
Now we can turn our attention to using the survey data to monitor the condition of the gravestones, trace changes in design and style of gravestones and so much more – this is all still in development but is very exciting. Should be a very interesting study by the end of it all.

Jane Lunnon

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

It was bitterly cold but beautifully bright and sunny, with vibrant yellow autumn leaves still fluttering above us in the trees.

We got a lot of work done, and apart from 3 stones which need RTI photography the survey of the North side is now complete.
That just leaves some un-marked plots on the south to finish and we will have met our target to finish all the fieldwork by Christmas!

While we were having our morning coffee to warm up, a large class of children from Embsay Primary School visited the church as part of their First World War project – they came to look for memorials within the church and outside in the churchyard. They were so well behaved, and attentive to the teacher, and seemed to really enjoy hunting for the little memorials scattered around the place. We were very impressed with their enthusiasm combined with quiet and respectful demeanour.

Jane Lunnon

Friday, 18 November 2016

Thursday 18 November 2016

At the invitation of Long Preston Heritage Group three of us visited Long Preston today to tell them about our churchyard survey project at Embsay. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and were well fed with plenty of home-made cakes.

Members of the committee and a couple of other interested local residents listened patiently to our three presentations – Sue gave an overview of the way the project has been managed and evolved over the past two years or so; Jane explained how the data collected and photographic collection can be analysed for a broader understanding of the cultural and social significance of the gravestones; and Alan explained the technique of RTI photography which has proved so useful in the project.
Sue chats about the project while Alan sets up the RTI demo
For the afternoon, we had planned a practical demonstration of RTI but the persistent rain meant we were driven indoors. So Alan set up a demo of the technique inside the church where a very lovely Jacobean bench-seat provided a good substitute for a gravestone.
Alan, Sue & Tony run the RTI demo inside Long Preston church
Some of the Long Preston Group then came back with us to the village hall where Alan wowed them with a demonstration of the RTI Viewer software.

We hope very much that the Long Preston Heritage Group will be inspired to run their own churchyard survey, and look forward to sharing our experience with them if they decide to go ahead.

Our thanks to them all for showing such an interest in our project and giving us such a warm welcome.

Jane Lunnon 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Wednesday 16th November 2016

I know we’re always going on about the weather but we are  British, and churchyard surveying does mean working outdoors – if it’s cold, wet and windy you get pretty cold standing around in a graveyard!!

Rained off this morning, three brave souls among us ventured out in the autumn sunshine of the afternoon to continue recording on the North side. At first it was fine – a bit chilly, but fine, so long as we wrapped up warm with fleecy jackets, woolly hats, caggys and gloves.
Wrapped up warm!
We spent a little time inside the church in the rather unexpected pursuit of lifting a wet carpet to dry off the wooden floor underneath after a leak from the water boiler in the kitchen. Lots and lots of newspaper put down to soak it up.

Gorgeous autumn colours of fallen leaves
Back outside as the afternoon progressed it got colder, breezier and wetter – we finished our target of grave plots just in time – the sun had gone, the drizzle was becoming more like rain, and the wind was blowing our tape into curves, making triangulation rather awkward. 

Quite a good day’s work was done though.

Jane Lunnon. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Wednesday 2nd November 2016.

This was the first day since last winter that we could really feel the crisp, fresh autumn chill. But it was a beautiful sunny day – not ideal for RTI, but nice for general surveying and photography of the gravestones.

We had several visitors in the morning – a group of ramblers popped in for a quick look at the church, before they set off for their walk; and a couple came looking for the grave of a relative as part of their family history research. We had an interesting chat with them and were able to exchange information for each other’s genealogical databases.  

Surveying then continued, and we did well almost completing 2 more rows of grave plots, before the light began to go and the cold drove us back inside.

Jane Lunnon