The Shetland FHS monumental inscription project ‘could not have come soon enough’


02 May 2024
Shetland MIs project drone footage of Burra Cemetery Kirkyard Shetland MIs project drone footage of Burra Cemetery Kirkyard Image courtesy Shetland FHS
Shetland Family History Society is a small society that has embarked on the ambitious project to photograph and transcribe all of the gravestones in Shetland, the goal being to provide an online database linking the images with the monumental inscriptions.

The work has faced the inevitable difficulties, as Susan Cooper, Chair of the Shetland FHS explains: ‘The older Shetland tombstones were made from sandstone, and these have deteriorated greatly since we had transcribed them in the 1990s. The project to photograph them could not have come soon enough.

‘We wanted to give members around the world, the chance to see their family graves without traveling long distances,’ continues Sharon. ‘This project brought so many people from all over our islands together. Our society members got behind this project and worked together over all the data preparation.’

About the Shetland FHS tombstone project

There are a total of 70 kirkyards (cemeteries) in Shetland and volunteers were recruited from every parish to do the local photographing. ‘Their personal knowledge and enthusiasm was encouraging to us who collated the materials they produced,’ added Joyce Henderson, Project Co-ordinator. ‘A small group then collated the photos and processed the pictures checking the transcriptions. We then passed the work onto the computer experts when many hours were needed to code and cross-reference the data before it could be ready to go online.’

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To find out more about the project, and to volunteer, visit:

As explained on the website: ‘The resultant collection will be published online for members. The majority of the graveyards have been visited, and the resulting photographs and transcriptions are being collated.

Family history volunteers needed for Shetland project

‘Much more work is required before they can be made available online. To offer help please email our project officer [email protected]