The Historic Graves project is a community focused grassroots heritage project. Local community groups are trained in low-cost high-tech field survey of historic graveyards and recording of their own oral histories. They build a multi-media online record of the historic graves in their own areas and unite to form a national resource. The project outlines a system and sequence which helps to co-ordinate and standardise an historic graveyard survey.
- Community groups are trained to use digital cameras and smartphones to survey historic graveyards.
- Both new and old survey records are combined with locally recorded audio and video stories to form a multi media record of a graveyard.
- By curating and publishing the survey records centrally the individual community graveyard surveys combine to form a national resource where the value of each survey is compounded by its association with others.
- The website allows visitors from Ireland and across the globe to freely explore and search the growing database of multimedia records and stories.
- It allows communities to self publish historic graveyard surveys and the related multimedia stories.
- The surveys are being funded by a number of Local Development Partnerships through LEADER funds and are supported by Local Heritage Officers, County Archaeologists and Local Authorities.
The website and survey methodology have been designed and built by Eachtra Archaeological Projects.
The original design was by John Tierney and Maurizio Toscano, Eachtra’s GIS manager, built and developed the system. Since the early design stage various people have had an input into the development of the project and the associated website, including Finn Delaney and Robin Turk, both of Eachtra. Bernie Goldbach, Senior Lecturer in Creative Multimedia, at the Tipperary Institute, and Caimin O’Brien, Department of Environment archaeologist have also had inputs into its development. Caimin O’Brien encouraged us to develop the multimedia elements of the graveyard surveys and this dovetailed perfectly with the hyperlocal heritage teachings of Bernie Goldbach.
A number of local development partnership companies teased out the community development potential of the project with us. Added to this we had discussions with a number of county archaeologists and heritage officers who also helped clarify issues such as data sharing, copyright and archiving.
Quite soon after we built the system Waterford County Council and the Heritage Council published the Care and Conservation of Historic Graveyards Guidelines, written by Caimin O’Brien. We incorporated the database from this book into our system and subsequently updated the database when dealing with a trial dataset loaned to us by the Heritage Council, Conservation Officer, Ian Doyle. This dataset consisted of a high quality survey of St Mary’s, Kilkenny, carried out by Cóilín Ó Drisceoil and a team from Kilkenny Archaeology.
Community groups themselves have also helped in the projects development and working with them in the field collecting data and afterwards manipulating and uploading the data has helped to refine the processes involved.