How to draw a sketch plan of an historic graveyard

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 »

Theoretical Underpinnings to the Protection and Promotion of Historic Graveyards

Introduction 

I get frustrated by talk show radio when people formulate opinions and profess them passionately without seemingly any prior thought or background knowledge. I always react positively to passion but the lack of solid underpinnings bothers me. Luckily in my work life both in archaeology with Eachtra and in historic graveyard conservation and promotion with the Historic Graves project there are solid theoretical foundations for what we do. Read more »

Sunlight on a headstone

 

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 »

The 'Staker' Wallace and Abbey graveyard, Co. Limerick

The 'Staker' Wallace is a renowned folk hero http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staker_Wallace of south Limerick who was hung, drawn and quartered for his role as local leader of the United Irishmen of 1798. During a workshop in Ballyorgan last week we were told that following his execution it is believed his mother recovered his head and carried it in her apron to be buried in Abbey graveyard in the Keale (pronounced Kale) valley, Ballyorgan. Given that the 'Staker' was probably in his 60s when he died his mother must have been a good age. Read more »

A Workshop in Kells Co. Meath

It is easy to miss St John’s cemetery in Kells Co. Meath as it is tucked away behind a large stone wall on Headfort Place to the south of the town. It also gets somewhat overshadowed by St Columba’s graveyard located on the top of the hill which contains numerous high crosses, an early church and a round tower. St John’s cemetery however is interesting in its own right and is well worth a visit. The Historic Graves project used the graveyard as a location for one of our workshops which forms part of an historic graveyard care and conservation course which we are presently running in conjunction with Meath PartnershipRead more »

Death and the Family Symposium

Clodagh Tait from the History Department of Mary Immaculate College and author of among many other publications Death Burial and Commemoration in Ireland 1550-1650 organised a Symposium on ‘Death and the Family’ which took place in Mary Immaculate college in Limerick on Wednedsay the 18th April 2012. Clodagh kindly invited the Historic Graves project along to give a talk at the symposium. There were four other speakers and a great afternoon was spent exploring a diverse range of subjects under the death and family umbrella. Read more »

One marvel from St. John's graveyard in Knockainey, Co. Limerick

We have commenced two months graveyard training in Co. Limerick, funded by Ballyhoura Leader and in collaboration with Limerick County Council. The first graveyard we worked in today is St. John's, Knockainey and amongst many intriguing stories Michael Quinlan lead us to the headstone of a man who died, apparently aged 219. We will measure and analyse the dimensions of the numbers, letters and associated spaces to see can we decipher the meaning of this carved inscription.

 

Easter Greetings 2012

Historic Graves Roadshow - Dublin

A number of local authorities in Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork have combined to organise an Historic Graveyards Roadshow which will commence in March 2012. Supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, the Local Authorities and Historic Graves, this roadshow will combine training in heritage conservation, archaeology, local history and genealogy for community groups and schools in a number of communities. Read more »

Historic Graves Roadshow - Kilkenny

A number of local authorities in Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork have combined to organise an Historic Graveyards Roadshow which will commence in March 2012. Supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, the Local Authorities and Historic Graves, this roadshow will combine training in heritage conservation, archaeology, local history and genealogy for community groups and schools in a number of communities. Read more »

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