Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Tuesday 19th June 2018

We had a trip out today to two churchyards in Upper Wharfedale.

Arriving at Conistone-with-Kilnsey this morning, we met with the churchwarden to have an informal chat about our proposed project for a churchyard survey at St Mary’s Church there. It was a glorious sunny day and we had a very pleasant morning wandering around the churchyard and discussing the project with Philip. 
The project here will be very similar to that we have carried out at Embsay-with-Eastby, and should nicely complement the other projects which Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group have been carrying out at Kilnsey over the past few years. 

The churchyard at Conistone is similar in many ways, as are the styles and forms of many of the gravestones – they are mostly Victorian or later – although the church is much older, dating back to pre-Norman times. 

There are some table top and chest tombs which are pre-Victorian – RTI will be necessary to establish their actual dates.
It is fortunate for us that concern over the condition of some of the trees surrounding the churchyard mean that the extensive ground vegetation (maintained as a nature reserve until recently) will have to be cleared to facilitate a detailed tree survey. This should give us access to some of the gravestones which cannot at the moment be seen.

Conistone churchyard has undergone many changes – apart from the table tops and chest tombs there appears to few pre-Victorian survivals – no doubt many old tombstones were cleared away during the extensive restoration of the church (which is still very beautiful inside) which took place in the nineteenth century. This would explain the large “empty” expanse on the north side, which is where the new burials are now being placed.

We had an early (and very nice) lunch at the Café in the Kilnsey Trout Farm, before heading off for Arncliffe in Littondale. The vicar had kindly given us permission to carry out some RTI photography on a table top here which bears a striking resemblance to the listed grave slab we photographed at Kettlewell at the beginning of the year.

However this one proved awkward to photograph – unlike the Kettlewell example, the one at Arncliffe is supported on legs, and therefore we found it difficult to fit it within the camera frame as our tripods were not high enough above it. The sunshine also made it difficult to view what we were shooting as the light reflected on the camera display screen.
On processing the photographs at home Alan later found that the bottom half of the gravestone came out quite well, but we need to re-shoot the top half.
Top half - Before

and after ; The initial attempt at RTI reveals a little more detail
Some thought needs to go into how we deal with raising the camera level above a horizontal grave, and still maintain visual checks upon the framing of the photographs. Alan hopes to use a remote display on his laptop next time, and Chris reckons he can fix something onto the camera beam to raise the height. So the challenge is there for them both.

We had a very nice afternoon in Arncliffe, and spoke to quite a few passers-by who were either visiting the church, or on a country hike on the footpath that runs alongside the churchyard.

And after all that hard work, naturally we felt the need to revisit the Trout Farm for a bit of tea and cake, and a long natter.  

Jane Lunnon

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