Monday, 27 May 2019

Saturday 25 May 2019
Today was an Archaeology “Family Fun Day” at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, organised by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of their “Stories in Stone” project.
Stories in Stone is part of a programme of community and heritage projects developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. ( )
Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group had been one of the community archaeology groups from the Dales invited to take part. While UWHG put up an information stall at the main event taking place at the playing fields, the Embsay-with-Eastby Churchyard Project team set up at St Oswald’s Church, which is about half a mile away. 

We suspected we might be too far from the main event to get many “customers” but in the end we saw quite a few visitors – some booked in advance, but the majority were passing through (the churchyard is on the Pennine Way).  
We ran two sessions demonstrating RTI photography and our two little groups seemed impressed with the results and the technique. They asked lots of questions and we took them inside the church to look at our information and display stand. Most of them lingered a long time to have a chat about the project and we were certainly kept busy all day. 
We had a nice visit from Tony Johnson, a photographer from the Yorkshire Post, who of course was interested in our use of RTI. He took loads of photos of us demonstrating the technique, and one of them has appeared in Monday’s edition of the newspaper (27th May 2019)
We would especially like to thank the lovely ladies of St Oswald’s who were very welcoming and hospitable – and make lovely cakes!
Jane Lunnon

Friday, 24 May 2019

21st May 2019

We spent a day again at Conistone-with-Kilnsey churchyard – it was a glorious spring day and we were joined by Jean and Peter, with whom we have been surveying the churchyard at Skipton Holy Trinity. They came to see how we do things, and I think they enjoyed themselves in the beautiful setting at Conistone. 
Peter and Jean helping Sue to record a gravestone
We were careful not to disturb the pheasant and her tiny little chicks – which kept popping out of the long grass, and then running back in again when they saw us.

Although the daffodils are well and truly gone, there are plenty of wild flowers here – including primroses, cowslips, forget-me-nots, and lords and ladies. 
Don't step on the wild flowers!
Despite being cut back recently the undergrowth is fast coming back but nevertheless we can now see some of the gravestones that have fallen over, some of which are not on the plan that was drawn up some decades ago. Hidden for so long, we must remember where we found them and go back to record them soon – although they are covered with thick layers of moss. 
The relaxed way to carry out a churchyard survey
We had a pleasant and interesting lunch – Jean and Peter are a mine of information about the recent history of Embsay.

Not many visitors today – just a couple who came in and headed straight for John Crowther’s memorial, but didn’t stay for a chat. (John Crowther was a very interesting man, best known as an antiquarian who founded the Folk Museum at Grassington.) 
Mug shot of a taphophile
All in all, it was a satisfying day’s work at the west end of the churchyard.

Jane Lunnon

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Wednesday 15th May 2019

Work at Skipton Holy Trinity churchyard resumed today – we were joined by Wendy, a keen and experienced genealogist who has offered to research the people buried here. She came along to see what the churchyard surveying was all about, and seemed to enjoy herself, helping Jennifer, Sue and Peter transcribe inscriptions.

Who knew graveyard surveying could be so much fun?
I found the bright sunshine (what a beautiful spring day it was) was good for photographing some gravestones but awkward for others due to the high contrast it created where there were shadows thrown across them, or the trees above throw down a dappled light.

I started on a new line of ledgers which were completely away from any shadows. All of these were in very good condition with very clear inscriptions.

Jean checking the grave-ID numbers
 At the end of the morning, Jean and Peter had to pack up, so Sue, Jennifer and I made our way up the dale to Conistone-with-Kilnsey to continue our churchyard surveying there. First, we sat down to have our packed lunches and simply enjoyed the glorious sunshine and beautiful, peaceful  surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales. It was lovely to see so many flowers scattered around the churchyard - bluebells, primroses, forget-me-nots, lords-and-ladies, and even a young gooseberry bush!

Eventually we stirred ourselves to get some work done – recording, measuring, examining and photographing a line of memorials on the western edge of the churchyard.  
The glamorous assistant!
We were careful not to disturb the pheasant with her chicks hiding in the grass on the far north side, and we enjoyed several chats with passers-by – walkers and holiday-makers who wandered into the churchyard. One couple were looking for a particular surname and we were able to help them find the 3 gravestones belonging to that family.  


Jane Lunnon

Friday 10th May 2019

Three of us made the trip to Horton-in-Ribblesdale where we are scheduled to provide RTI demonstrations on 25th May as part of the Archaeology “Family Fun Day” being organised by the Stories in Stone Project 

We started the day with a cup of coffee at the only tea-shop left in Horton and had a nice chat with the lady who runs it – she really wanted this to be a gift shop, but there are so many walkers and tourists passing through the village she felt someone had to offer light refreshments.

We were greeted by the vicar who welcomed up to St Oswald’s Church. Then we spent some time having a good look around the gravestones and selected three suitable candidates for the RTI session. Most of the gravestones in St Oswald’s churchyard are in pretty good condition – must be the clean air and the use of local slate for many of the memorials – but there were three lichen-covered stones that were difficult to read in overcast conditions.

The lighting conditions kept changing – from sunshine to cloudy – a nightmare for RTI, especially when the clouds were mostly white, reflecting back a lot of light. It meant the flashlight was not fully illuminating the gravestones as it was competing against the natural light. We had to make a couple of compromises on the first two memorials we photographed – such as moving the camera in closer on the largest of the three gravestones, so that only half of it was in-frame. We also had to halve the length of the string which is used to provide a consistent guide to the distance between the flash and the camera. Normally we advise that length should be the same as the distance between the camera and the object. By the time we came to photographing the third gravestone the clouds were greyer and the RTI session went well, working within normal parameters.

While we were there we had a stroll around the north side where the burial site has been extended to take newer burials. Found a couple of really beautiful examples of memorials which struck us as particularly touching.

We also had a look inside the church to assess the potential for setting up a small display on the 25th May.

After that we drove out to the tea-shop at Middle Studfold Farm where we enjoyed a fabulous light meal – soup, omlette and cake. Highly recommended.

Back at home I processed the photographs with some reservations, and at first I wasn’t too happy with the results on the first two gravestones. The third was fine. However, by selecting Normals Visualisation Mode on the RTI viewer and then importing the resulting snapshot into Photoshop I was able to produce a really good result on both the gravestones – simply converting the jpg to black and white, and playing a little with the Levels and Brightness/Contrast. I was really pleased in the end that they had turned out so much better than I expected.

So now we can say “here are some we prepared earlier” in true Blue Peter style when we are at Horton giving the RTI demo. 
We had originally considered showing interested people how to use the RTI Builder software but realised that (a) most people would find it a tedious process, and (b) we won’t have internet access there, so the software wouldn’t work anyway!.

Jane Lunnon

Wednesday 8th May 2019

We had planned a day out in a churchyard today but the weather was inclement, so we had an afternoon at Sue’s house typing up the data on the gravestones at Kettlewell Methodist Chapel.

There are only 8 gravestones so we easily managed to get all the data sheets completed before tea-time (Thanks Jennifer for the delicious banana cake!).

We had made the decision not to get into the genealogical research for Kettlewell, but by the end of the data-inputting we had so many questions about the people buried there that we are sorely tempted to do a little basic research in order to see what the connections were between this select little group.

Jane Lunnon

Saturday, 4 May 2019

1st May 2019

Dr Roger Martlew kindly gave up his morning to try plotting Conistone churchyard with GPS, but the trees and the church building made the whole exercise impossible.
Roger and Sue setting the GPS equipment on the north side
It was extremely frustrating, but we all agreed that we would have to resort to old-fashioned triangulation with tapes in order to produce an accurate plan of the churchyard.

A lonely GPS unit working silently but hampered by the trees
However, RTI photography was more successful today with good progress made on the box and table tombs on the south side. 

Teamwork and co-ordinated movement is essential in RTI !
Meanwhile, three of us focused on cleaning up some memorial stones ready for taking clear photographs. I should mention at this point that our policy is to always avoid “cleaning” a stone if it is lichen-covered. We never remove lichen as every churchyard has a unique lichen growth. But we do remove moss if it can be removed without damaging the stone surface – we gently use an archaeologist’s trowel for moss “carpets” which tend to virtually roll away. 

But we then use plastic pickers (again using archaeologist’s tools) to gently tease out moss and soil from inside the carved lettering. Ivy is never pulled away from the stones – we may later consider cutting ivy at the roots and letting it die off for a few months before we investigate whether we can gently peel it off those stones which are significantly overgrown. We never wash or scrub a gravestone.

Being a taphophile can be so much fun!

We enjoyed talking to some visitors to the churchyard, including passing walkers, as well as local people. It’s always gratifying when local people in particular, take an interest and say they appreciate us recording the churchyard for posterity.

Jane Lunnon  

29th April 2019.

We started the day by meeting up at Arncliffe churchyard with the intention to complete the RTI photography on a 17thC table top there – we had managed to photograph half of it some time ago but needed another RTI session to finish the job to our satisfaction. But it was such a lovely spring day that – again - we just couldn’t complete the RTI – it was just too sunny and bright! Two walkers visiting the churchyard as a stop-off point off the footpath must have found it very amusing watching us waiting for the clouds to come over so we could make another attempt at photography, and getting very frustrated when the clouds rolled quickly by. 

We finally had to admit defeat and consoled ourselves with an early lunch at the cafĂ© at Kilnsey Trout Farm. 

From there we went back to Conistone to carry on with our churchyard survey there. 
Alan tried some more RTI with a little bit of success as the brightness of the morning was reduced.

Jane Lunnon

26 April 2019

A sunny start to the day gradually turned to drizzly rain and sharply cold breezes which made for difficult conditions, but we wrapped up warm and soldiered on at Conistone churchyard today. 
Sheltering from a rain shower
We continued to mark out with flags the burial plots at the south-east end of the churchyard that had no gravestones, and photographed them for the record. 
Unfortunately there are no records to tell us the names of any of those buried in un-marked plots, but the traces of their burial mounds can still be seen.  We also worked on recording, measuring, and photographing some of the surviving gravestones on the south side, including yet more un-marked plots. 
Lynne on the case with the paperwork
The onset of rain drove us to an early lunch which we took in the shelter of the church (I hasten to add, we had sought and been given permission!). 
Sue - never downhearted, no matter the weather!
We managed an hour or so after lunch of more surveying but were beaten by the cold by 2 pm and decided to call it a day.

Jane Lunnon