St. Mary the Virgin Embsay-with-Eastby Churchyard Project
Throwing Light Upon The Past
This project is a partnership between St. Mary the Virgin Church (Embsay-with-Eastby), and Embsay Research Group (part of Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group), with the “Discovering England’s Burial Spaces (DEBS) Project at the University of York
Why Study Churchyards?
These are highly significant local heritage assets – in most villages and many towns, often the most visible and evocative physical presence of the influence of the past.
At the heart of village history
You can regard gravestones as archaeological artefacts, historical documents set in stone, or as public works of art. They reflect changing social, artistic and cultural trends, show changing methods of production and manufacture, represent varied expressions of religious faith, and demonstrate changing approaches to death and bereavement.
The Village Churchyard
A place for private and very raw, intense expressions of personal grief, love and family bonds, yet at the same time, very public places, accessible to all who wish to find some moments of peace and tranquility, or to search for the resting place of an ancestor - the village churchyard allows us to engage directly with the people who have shaped our families, our communities, and our parish history.
In many cases they are heritage at risk – vulnerable to the ravages of time and weather, neglect, abuse, or even obliteration. Yet elsewhere, they are still at the living heart of parish life, enjoyed by churchgoers, local residents, family historians and tourists.
It’s time to give them a little more attention and appreciation.
[photo – RTI in action]
Most work carried out in churchyards has been to record memorial inscriptions, but many of these have become illegible.
With the help of the “Discovering England’s Burial Spaces” project (DEBS) at the University of York, the Embsay Churchyard Project has used Reflective Transformation Imaging (RTI) to reveal many more inscriptions and images than could previously be seen with the naked eye.
Spreading the Word
Our study has embraced many different aspects : not only the memorial inscriptions, but also the imagery, the symbolism, the artistic styles, condition monitoring, updating of parish church records, family and local history, and the natural ecology of the burial ground.
The Embsay Churchyard Project team are keen to encourage other local groups to study their churchyards, and develop RTI skills. We hope that by sharing our experiences in developing our study of Embsay Churchyard we can help others to carry out similar studies of their own.
Our thanks go to the following :
Dr Nicole Beale and Dr Gareth Beale, DEBS Project : www.debs.ac.uk/
Revd. Louise Taylor Kenyon, and the P.C.C., St Mary the Virgin Church, Embsay-with-Eastby: http://www.stmaryembsay.org.uk
Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group: www.uwhg.org.uk/
Embsay-with-Eastby Research Group : Read the ERG Project Blog at: http://embsay-research-group.blogspot.com
Friends of Raikes Road Burial Ground, Skipton: http://frrbg.org.uk/
St Mary the Virgin Embsay-with-Eastby Churchyard Project
Project co-ordinator: Sue Stearn
St. Mary the Virgin Church, Embsay, c.1900
A typical example of a mid-Victorian village churchyard in the Craven dales. Embsay-with-Eastby is a rural parish just a couple of miles from the ancient market town of Skipton, North Yorkshire. The church was built in 1853 to cater for the workers at the 7 mills, which then existed in the 2 villages, and although those mills are now gone, the church still plays an active part in the life of the local community.