Every Church of England graveyard to be digitally mapped

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15 October 2021
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Each grave in every one of England’s 19,000 Church of England graveyards is to be digitally mapped in an ambitious new project that promises to be of great benefit to family historians.

The project, which has been described as ‘Google Maps for graves’, is funded by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It will involve surveyors with state of the art backpack scanners visiting each Church of England graveyard and mapping and photographing each grave. Cumbria will be the first area to be scanned, with the whole of England due to be completed within seven years.

Online graveyard database

The result will be a comprehensive online database where anyone can search for their ancestor’s final resting place. Atlantic Geometrics, who are carrying out the survey, explained on their website that the survey will ‘record every square inch of every churchyard in England, photograph all the visible memorials and scan and transcribe all the parish registers. As well as then knowing the extent of all the churchyards, exactly where they are and where the features within them are located, valuable historic records will be preserved.

'Photographs of all the memorials (excepting very recent or sensitive examples), some of which may deteriorate over the next few years, fall down or be laid flat, will provide a comprehensive catalogue. All the information will be in one place and of a consistent standard and quality.

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‘Every memorial in the churchyard will be photographed and all the parish records - baptism, marriage and burial records and any bishops transcripts - will be scanned and their content transcribed. The photographs, scanned images and transcribed records will be linked to the map of the churchyard.’ 

Find out more about the project at Atlantic Geometrics detailed Q&A page.

(With thanks to Robin Bickerstaffe for drawing our attention to this project)