On Saturday 29 Sept the first steps in a detailed survey of the old graveyard began. The objective is to record every feature, from the most elaborate tomb to the humblest of un-inscribed stone. A similar survey was conducted by Liz Erskine and her team back in 1979 and although that survey concentrated mainly on the inscribed headstones it will prove to be a most valuable resource for our current effort. We will draw on information from her work plus the current work being carried out by Liam Baldrick (Northwest Modern Designs), Kate Crossan (Cronin and associates archaeological services), and architect Caroline Dickson.
Starting from scratch, Saturday began with a deliberate small workforce of just two people, in order to have a plan in place as the survey continues. The intention was to clear the tall grass from a small section measuring 13 metres by five metres, then devise a simple technique to photographically record the stones plus their positions within the area.
Overall, 'day one' has been a success with a few lessons learned which should aid the survey going forward. The main headache was deciding whether certain un-inscribed stones were headstones or foot-stones. With a graveyard of this vintage it is highly probable that there are graves on top of graves, and graves under the grassy paths within the complex. But it was decided that it is best to record all the stones and leave interpretation to a later date in the project.
The reader should be reminded that our chief goal is to render the crumbling old church gable structurally sound and also to protect St Mura's cross from further weathering. The relevant bodies are dealing with those urgent matters and, hopefully, with enough donations from the public we can keep the iconic site from falling into dilapidation.
In the meantime we could use some extra help for the graveyard survey. Please make contact with us via the 'Contact us' button or simply drop in next Saturday when we will be clearing another area of tall grass and recording more stones. Needless to say, it will be hands-on work so dress accordingly. Everybody welcome!
Thanks for reading.Some pics below from Saturday's effort -
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