We train communities to do simple sketch plans of historic graveyards (http://historicgraves.com/blog/how/how-draw-sketch-plan-historic-graveyard). The gravediggers 3 ft or 1 m pace is key to drawing a simple but accurate sketch plan. With our friends in Glanmire, Co. Cork we have been surveying Rathcooney graveyard. We did the standard pencil on A4 sheet drawing of the older section of the graveyard and uploaded it to the website and now Robin Turk has vectorised the drawing for the group. We did it as an experiment to see how long it would take. It took a few hours to do but I think it is very atractive and clear. Read more »
Under the shadow of the Knockmealdowns Tony & Mark took to the recording of the graveyards of south Tipperary like ducks to water. Mark is a geographer and Tony a retired builder so they both had a strong spatial sense and a tidy approach to dealing with paperwork.
This video shows the lads doing their first newsprint rubbing in Shanrahan graveyard. The group of graveyards from Newcastle, Tubrid and Shanrahan have a distinctive iconography of carving in the tympanum (top part of headstone). Common motifs in the Arma Christi headstones are the Pillar on which Our Lord was scourged entwined with the rope which bound him and this is clearly seen in the rubbing. Read more »
As we work with community groups around the country one of our main aims to track the different stonecutters who have worked in Ireland. We record the carved grave memorials by geotagged photo and database record sheets always taking care to record the stonemason/cutter if they have signed their work.
We can now search the Historic Graves database for stonecutter/stonemason in the Family Search view http://historicgraves.com/familysearch. Read more »
As we record grave memorials throughout the country we come across the names of the stonecarvers and cutters who made them. Sometimes a signature (in full or initials) is found below the upper carvings and sometimes at the base of the stone. We have come across Bolster, Beary, Keane and Dack, amongst many others, and as the project develops we will pursue other historic sources to research these tradesmen. Read more »
Grave plots are generally three feet wide and six feet long. Most grave plots are arranged in rows. The very first thing when recording an historic graveyard is to identify the row arrangements. Be patient and let the patterns reveal themselves - we prefer to find the straightest row (often along a boundary wall) and start there. Then we number the memorials (using strips of masking tape with numbers stuck to the back of the memorials) and sketch the relative location of the memorials. With practice, surprisingly accurate plans can be drawn. We have been using A4 ruled pages for the drawings but Robin Turk has just designed a new template sheet for the plans. Read more »
The key tools we use in reading headstones are the sun and the human eye. Oblique sunlight casts shadows on incised inscriptions allowing patterns to be recognised and words to be read. Patience is rewarded in graveyard recording when that perfect moment arrives and a previously undecipherable inscription is lit up by the sun emerging from behind the clouds. Using a mirror to bounce the sunlight during afternoon recording sessions onto the headstone face gives surprisingly good results. Rubbing grass, soil, chalk and other foreigh substances onto a stone are all less effective than the use of a torch and mirror and are strongly discouraged. They do not work and they may damage the memorial stone. Read more »
In little over three hours an area measuring 400 sq m was shorn of brambles and grass clumps while a railed memorial at the eastern end of the ruined church was cleared of some invasive elder plants. Read more »
This technique involves using sheets of newsprint, an ordinary kitchen sponge and sheets of carbon paper. Our friend Gerry Mullens taught us this technique and he got it from Dr Elizabeth Shee Twohig, a specialist in prehistoric rock art. The beauty of the technique is that it has minimal impact on the headstone while ensuring a 1:1 copy is made, either of the complete face or of particular details. Read more »
Making a good photographic record of the memorial stones in an historic graveyard is an important first step in any graveyard survey. The photographs provide a record of the memorial stones at the time the photograph is taken and in and of themselves form an important element of the baseline record. Photographs can also play an important part in recording the memorial stone inscriptions which is the ultimate conservation tool available to any community group. In the Historic Graves methodology geo-located photographs are a crucial element in the systematic approach to graveyard survey.
As archaeologists, photography forms an important part of our day-to-day work.