23 September 2021
Archaeologists from MOLA Headland Infrastructure are inviting people to take part in a huge citizen science project - digitising 57,639 burial records that hold key details about the lives of Londoners in the 18th- and 19th-centuries.
The records relate to St James’s Burial Ground, Euston, where over 31,000 burials were carefully excavated on behalf of CSjv, as part of HS2’s archaeology work between 2018 and 2019. The largest of its kind ever undertaken in the UK, the excavation provided an unprecedented opportunity to understand what it was like to live through a pivotal time in London’s history, when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing.
With excavations complete, archaeologists now want to combine their findings with details contained in the burial ground records, to delve even deeper into the site’s history. The project will create a searchable, digital archive to develop a better understanding of the people buried at St James’s, revealing crucial details about their lives and opening the doors to further research.
Stories of individuals from all walks of life
Participants will use the project website to decipher handwritten burial records, logging key details like names, addresses and causes of death. They will join a global team of researchers working together to unlock the stories of the burial ground, collaborating with world-class archaeologists and bringing their own unique perspectives to the project.
No previous experience is required – just a willingness to learn new computer skills and do some problem solving – and there is no minimum time commitment.
Robert Hartle, a Senior Archaeologist at MOLA Headland Infrastructure who worked on the excavation, said: “The people buried in St James’s burial ground include individuals from all walks of life; men, women and children, paupers and nobility, artists and soldiers, inventors and industrialists. But the archaeology is only the beginning. The large number of individuals at St James's who are identifiable via surviving name plates gives us an unprecedented chance to unlock avenues for further research, to match the physical remains of people and their burials with the historical records of the lives they led.
“The Stories of St James’s Burial Ground digitisation project is a unique opportunity to make a genuine contribution to our ongoing archaeological research and make connections that will shed new light on ordinary people, all too often forgotten to history.”