Friday, 12 October 2018

Thursday 11th November 2018

The weather was a little different today – we delayed going this morning as there was some rain, and it didn’t look hopeful, but by about 10am the sun came out and we all dashed out of our respective homes to descend on Skipton and see how much we could get done before the forecast rain came. 

We were lucky in that we were able to keep working until well past 1 p.m.  The sunny skies soon turned a bit dull, which made the task of reading many of the inscriptions a little more difficult. Peter’s super-duper LED torch was used to provide some raking light and clarifying some of them, but it’s evident that some RTI photography will be needed.

When the kitchen extension was added to the back of the church in 1979 some old gravestones were cut up for use as steps.
I continued taking ordinary photographs -  Not always easy for a short person like me – even standing on a double-step step-ladder I can only just get a ledger in frame provided I stretch right up and hold my arms out at full stretch. Sometimes I couldn’t really see what I was taking even with my swivel display screen as the sun was in my eyes. Still I think I got most of them ok. 

Jane Lunnon, Embsay Research Group.

9th & 10th November 2018 

Started on a new Churchyard survey project today. Joined forces with the Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground (Skipton) to work on recording the gravestones at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton. Old engravings of the church clearly show the south graveyard was once filled with a large number of table tops and chest tombs – but in the 1950s the south side was completely cleared and landscaped, so that now it is a large plain lawn with a few benches ranged around the perimeter – a popular resting place for locals and tourists alike as it provides a good view down the high street.
North side with re-located headstones under the castle walls
Many of the gravestones were moved round to the back in what is now a very pleasant, quiet, walled enclosure under the shadow of the castle outbuildings. 
The north graveyard extends under the shadow of the church
The majority of the gravestones are now set into the ground as ledgers – most were formerly table tops, but there are a good number of uprights ranged against the walls. This area is secluded because of the iron gates, which are often locked, but the vicar has been kind enough to give us access.
The weather on Tuesday and Wednesday took us by surprise – several of us turned up wearing our thermals expecting a cold chilly day – it was actually a beautiful warm summer’s day, excellent for reading inscriptions. Good for a lot of the photography too, although in some instances the high contrasting shadows thrown across the gravestones proved troublesome.
The wind blew around the autumn leaves - which kept Pete busy with the broom
Our project co-ordinator, Jean, who has for several years run the highly successful Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground, has allocated an identifying number to each gravestone, and has set our first task as checking the accuracy of a previous recording of the memorial inscriptions. As with so many MI records, the primary purpose had been to simply record the names and dates of the deceased to serve genealogists’ needs. But this means that subtle messages and interesting foibles are often missed. So we are now transcribing the full inscriptions verbatim, complete with contemporary spelling and punctuation. Most of the inscriptions in the area we are starting on are actually in surprisingly good condition. The masons of Skipton appear to have used very good quality stone (although, of course, we have no idea how many poor quality headstones were discarded in the clearance of the south graveyard).  The sunshine proved very helpful in the reading.
In the meantime, Pete started measuring up the graveyard to produce a plan, while I set to on the task of making a detailed photographic record of the headstones. I’m photographing not only the face of each gravestone, but also specific details such as iconography, close-ups of the inscription, design details, and signs of damage and deterioration for condition monitoring purposes.

We were grateful to the caretaker who has invited us to use the kitchen to make tea and coffee, and indeed to the gentleman who even made us tea and coffee on Wednesday. 

Jane Lunnon