Friday, 7 June 2019

Wednesday 5th June 2019

Weather a little unpredictable and variable today, but we nevertheless turned up at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton, to do a morning’s work there. 
Jean checks grave-IDs while the team try to read inscriptions 
More inscriptions were read and checked against the transcriptions made some years ago by another group, before they had the benefit of LED torches. It is well-known, of course, that  the simple technique of shining an oblique light on a gravestone can be very effective in making it more legible – but there is certainly an added advantage if an LED light is deployed. Nevertheless the list of gravestones which will need RTI is growing – torchlight throws ugly shadows across the stone which would be unsuitable for the formal photographic record, and also only illuminates a small portion of the gravestone at a time.   

In the afternoon 3 of us headed off for Conistone-with-Kilnsey for an afternoon surveying the churchyard there. The clouds were getting greyer, and Conistone always seems to feel colder than the surrounding area anyway – we think it has its own microclimate. But we managed a couple of hours surveying before the rain chased us into the shelter of the church, where after half an hour we decided the rain was well and truly set in, and we had to go home. But at least we managed to record 4 gravestones.  
Beautifully co-ordinated mother-and-daughter team prepare gravestones for photography
It’s an interesting exercise to participate in two churchyard surveys run by different people. The approach is slightly different in terms of the record-keeping techniques, and approach to recording. The Conistone survey is following the same model as the one we ran at Embsay – Having started with a plan of the burial site, and ensured each known burial plot has an id number, in the field we take measurements, check the location against the plan, photograph the memorials, and record a few details such as condition and masons’ marks. But the majority of the recording work takes place indoors, working from the photographs. This ensures we can not only work in comfort, and will not be weather-dependant for this second phase, but we also find it helps us to focus on details and gives us more leisure to discuss each gravestone. It also means we can work from the RTI results for those memorials that are difficult to read.  
Using a LED torch at Skipton
The Skipton survey works on a model that is more commonly used – the emphasis so far has been almost exclusively on reading the inscriptions directly from the gravestones, often with the aid of torchlight. It can often be a struggle with the illegible or partly illegible gravestones, and we shall have to wait for the RTI to be done, so that we can return to those which proved impossible or difficult to read in the field.  

Both methods, of course, have their advantages. It would be interesting to know how other groups carry out their own churchyard surveys by comparison.

Jane Lunnon