Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thursday 16th February 2017

There isn’t much to report this week, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been progressing.

Alan contemplates the imminent approach of lunch-time
We continued typing up Grave reference sheets at yesterday’s session  – as always,  taking the opportunity to check for anomalies in the original church records, and to plan ahead for the kind of data we wish to gather and analyse for the next phase of the project, which will look at the memorials as a collective group in terms of their historical and cultural significance.

And of course we check the photographs carefully, and there is a growing list of those which need to be taken again for greater clarity or more detail. For some team members it is also proving a useful learning experience as they develop their computer literacy.  

Jane Lunnon

Friday, 10 February 2017

Friday 10th Feb 2017

We’ve been busy over the last couple of weeks.

With my husband I took a trip up the Wharfedale valley last Saturday and we had a quick look around three churchyards – at Burnsall, Linton and Hubberholme. 
Example of a gravestone style & design that is found at both Burnsall and Embsay
I took about 200 photographs trying to get a rough idea of the overlap in gravestone layout and design, and assess how local styles and particularly iconography vary from one parish to another. It was a fascinating exercise and one I think is well worth following up
Example of a gravestone style & design that is found at both Hubberholme and Embsay

– the differences and the similarities between neighbouring parishes is very interesting and raises all sorts of questions about the cultural interaction between communities within the same dale, the use of the same stone masons, and even the influence of changing local geology.
Undressed Limestone boulder - examples are found throughout Upper Wharfedale -
only in small numbers in Embsay & Linton,
but in large numbers at Kettlewell and Conistone-with-Kilnsey
It was surprising though to find that very few of the older gravestones have survived – we must assume that even though these three churches are medieval in origin that the Victorians have swept away the old memorials from their churchyards – only a handful of late 18thC headstones have survived in these ancient churchyards - it seems unlikely that no one could afford to set up headstones before the early 19thC in these parishes. (Of course, I am not counting the Anglo-Scandinavian hogbacks and early medieval crosses which are housed inside Burnsall church in this assessment!).  Looks like any comparative studies that we may decide to carry out in Upper Wharfedale may have to be confined to the 19th century.

There have been two more sessions at Sue’s house of typing up more Reference Sheets for individual gravestones. This is a surprisingly slow process even with people working in pairs as we are checking the photographic record against the field survey notes, and adding more information that we can glean from the photographs. It has shown how important it is to take a comprehensive set of photographs, making sure all the details of inscriptions, design features and carved imagery are included as close-ups so these can all be examined and entered onto the record sheets.

This stage of the process also allows us to check and cross-check any anomalies against the burial register, and to recognise the variety that there is in the designs and styles of gravestones.
It is also the time to list any queries that need following up, and notes on any further field work that needs doing – such as blurred photos that need to be taken again, or missing measurements, etc.

Sue and I have also been busy preparing a presentation – we finally gave our talk to the Friends of the Craven Museum in Skipton on Wednesday evening. Sue started with an overview of the project and how it started and is progressing, while I followed with two case studies – the gravestones of George Chamberlain and of Shacklock Mason’s family. 
The gravestone of George Chamberlain,
the very first burial at St Mary's Church, Embsay, 1853
There were lots of questions afterwards which is a good sign that they found it interesting. The title of the talk was “All life is here; the village churchyard as a window into local history”, and hopefully encouraged the audience to look at parish churchyards as an important heritage asset for social, local and family historians alike.  

Jane Lunnon