Monday, 11 February 2019

Saturday 9th February 2019  

On Wednesday some of our Churchyard survey team went over to the lovely market town of Settle in neighbouring Ribblesdale at the request of the History Group there. They have nearly completed a survey of the large churchyard of the parish church of The Holy Ascension, with an extensive photographic record and transcriptions of the memorial inscriptions.

The condition of the majority of the gravestones is very good, but there were three that could not be read. So we gladly agreed to come over and take some RTI pictures.  It was a perfect day for RTI photography – only a very slight breeze, an overcast but not too grey a sky, and it wasn’t raining. 
While 3 of us demonstrated the RTI technique, Sue and the Settle people exchanged information and some thoughts on churchyard surveying.

The old Settle churchyard (as distinct from the modern extensions at the far end) contains a wide variety of memorial types including the ubiquitous pedestal crosses. A good proportion of kerbstones survive – thankfully not removed for the sake of easier grass-cutting. The standard of the gravestones is generally high quality – apart from the three selected for RTI the condition is very good, with few signs of weathering. 
This headstone is too badly eroded even for RTI to help reveal the inscription

There are also some interesting designs – one which particularly caught my eye was a dismantled pedestal cross with art nouveau style carving – despite being a popular style in the early 20th Century for interior design and furnishings, I have so far found few examples of this style in parish churchyard memorials. 

We finished in time for lunch and walked the few hundred yards into the town centre to a coffee shop where we continued our exchange of ideas, and compared methodology and project objectives. It was an extremely useful and enjoyable exercise – talking through different approaches and different reasons for recording gravestones. 

It was a very different meeting that we had on Saturday as Nicole and Gareth came over to discuss the progress of the DEBS project (Discovering England’s Burial Spaces, Centre for Digital Heritage at The University of York). 

We had a really interesting day going through the designs for the gravestones database, and tweaking some of the data fields. It brought into sharp focus the need to design databases with community groups specifically in mind, a rather different proposition from designing for academics.

Thanks, Sue, for a great buffet lunch!

Jane Lunnon.