Low impact headstone rubbings

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 »

Photography for Graveyard Recording


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.

A Little Bit Every Year

Camin O’Brien in his Guidelines for the Care, Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards emphasises the need for an annual maintenance regime and he recommends that the motto to adopt when it comes to graveyard maintenance is a ‘little bit every year’.  Read more »

GPS - Talking to the satellites

I first encountered a GPS receiver on Professor William O’Brien’s excavations at Ross Island in Killarney, Co. Kerry sometime in the early 1990s. Kevin Barton then of the UCG Applied Geophysics unit and now with Landscape Geophysical Services used a hand held receiver in order to map a surveying traverse through the fantastic Killarney woodland surrounding the excavation area. He described the technique to a befuddled group of sweaty luddite archaeology students, as establishing your position within the Irish National Grid by talking to satellites. I just didn’t believe him and as it turned out it was not so easy to talk to the satellites in a woodland environment. Read more »

Recording a Graveyard Memorial

The number one conservation technique which a community group can employ in their local historic graveyard is to record the memorial inscriptions. The relentless action of the elements is slowly eroding all the stone memorials. It is a fact that modern inscription surveys in graveyards previously surveyed in the early twentieth century show that the memorials have a marked deterioration in legibility. The recording of the graveyard memorial inscriptions is also key to unlocking the rich family and social histories contained within historic graveyards. Read more »

Audio Recording - Oral Histories and Audioboo

From the outset the Historic Graves project has been about more then simply recording raw data such as location information, photographs and inscriptions from historic graveyards and the memorials contained within. The project has endeavoured to enable and encourage local communities to record the stories and oral histories attached to the graveyards and memorials. Historic Graves believes that this element of interpretation which all story telling involves should be done by the local communities themselves and not by imported experts. The tagline to the Historic Graves website reads ‘Local Stories, Local Voices, Local Places’. Read more »

The ethics of human skeletal remains reburial in the UK - thoughts by Mike Pitts

'On the other hand, they are relics of real people. We should treat them with respect – because we are human, and they are physical links with humans. '

Some interesting thoughts by Mike Pitts on the current debate in the UK about the reburial of human skeletal remains assemblages.

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