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ERG update January 2017

Field Work

Wall Survey

After a good start this project has had to be delayed for quite some time due to illness, bad weather and pressure of other commitments – it’s a time-consuming task which has to be fitted into short windows of time heavily dependent upon the weather, the farming calendar and availability of a team of people, but we fully intend to resume the surveying at some time over the next year or so.

2017_walls survey_sml02

The intention is to map the different characters of stone walling to see whether there is any pattern to the various types of construction that can be found in field boundaries throughout the parish. It would be particularly interesting to see if we can use stone walls to provide a rough guide dating field boundaries.

Historic Landscape
In conjunction with the walls survey we hope to follow up with a study of other landscape features such as old trackways, ridge and furrow, old gate-posts, etc. The survey of parish boundary stones has already been completed, and a report is forthcoming.

2017_stones survey_sml_LR


St Mary’s Churchyard Survey
This project began simply enough – to record the gravestones at St Mary’s Church, Embsay, and update the grave plan. But this joint project by volunteers, from the church congregation and members of Embsay Research Group and Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group, has mushroomed into a much larger and more ambitious project. Each headstone has been photographed, measured, plotted onto a grave plan and its condition monitored. The many anomalies between these and the old records of the church (burial registers and grave plan) have been resolved (as far as is possible!).

The project naturally linked into the research being carried out by the Embsay Research Group into the family histories of the parish, and members of ERG are busy researching the lives of all those who are known to have been buried here. Over the past two years Graveyard tours were offered to give us an opportunity to tell some of their stories. These have proved popular so this looks like it may become an annual event, and we hope to publish a small book of collected life histories as a result.

2017_churchyard survey_sml_LR

Introduced to the technique of RTI photography through a workshop in York, we have developed a partnership with Gareth and Nicole Beale of the Centre for Digital Heritage at York University. They have encouraged us to develop the technique for gravestone photography. This part of the project has opened up all sorts of possibilities, and has become a major element in our work, which we are keen to share with other community heritage groups.

If more community groups can be encouraged to carry out surveys of their churchyards and other burial grounds, this will help enormously to promote awareness of these places as one of the most important heritage assets in most parishes. Not only does recording help to increase appreciation of the headstones as archaeological artefacts, but it also provides a wonderful resource for local and family history. Gravestones can also be studied for their artistic merit – Following on the recording of the physical presence of headstones at Embsay, we are planning a second phase of detailed analysis of the design, artistic style, iconography and epitaphs.

For updates on the Churchyard Project see our Blog. More details of RTI will soon be available on this website.

Documentary Research

The 13th-14th century accounts of Bolton Priory have been transcribed and printed in medieval Latin –  Chris Lunnon of ERG has extracted and translated all references to Embsay and Eastby which were in the Compotus, and is writing a paper on what these tell us about the medieval economy of the two townships. This paper will be published soon. 

Scottish raids
To further explore some of the issues arising from his analysis of the Compotus, Chris is now preparing a paper on the impact of the Scottish raids on the local area.

Genealogical Database
David Turner and Jane Lunnon continue to develop a database containing the life histories of every known inhabitant of Embsay and Eastby. This now contains well over 13,400 individual records, and  more are being added almost weekly. Having entered all the people named in the parish registers of Embsay St Mary’s, and added all known Embsay and Eastby residents mentioned in the parish registers of Holy Trinity Church Skipton, plus the Census Returns, we are now going back over the records of each person to research them using further resources such as wills, antiquarian accounts, electoral registers, leases, etc. This is a huge task, and will no doubt keep us busy for several years as more sources become available.

First World War Soldiers
o commemorate the centenary of the Great War, Jane is producing articles on each soldier from the parish who died on active service. These are each released in the anniversary month of their death, and published in the local parish newsletter, and here


 In support of this, Jane is also going through the archives of the local newspapers to find all references to Embsay and Eastby between 1914 and 1919. At the end of the centenary a book will be produced to collect all the stories together.

Embsay British School records 2017_british_school_log_book_cr02
The log book of the Embsay British School has been transcribed by ERG member John Weatherill. The primary school has kindly lent us their old archives, including the National School’s 19thC log books and admissions registers, which 3 ERG members – John, Ruth Spencer and Jane Lunnon – are now in the process of transcribing. Together the records of the two schools will be analysed for data relating to various aspects of local history such as migration patterns, public health, and education.


The front cover of the Embsay British School Log Book, 1860

Archive Documents – Parker & Chippendale

David Turner is busy going through a large private collection of family papers which he is transcribing. This fascinating family were closely linked to the history of the mills in our two villages, and their story is an important one for the Craven area.

Whitfield plans for popular version
 A publication on the history of the Whitfield Mill and the associated hamlet will soon be published. This will complement the archaeological report published a few years ago by Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group.

Family History enquiries
The number of enquiries received via the UWHG website and the Churchyard project is steadily increasing. We endeavour to respond with as full a genealogical report as possible using what data we have in our project database. At the moment we do not charge for this service, although we do ask that a donation be made if possible to either ERG or to St Mary’s Church fund.

Record of Walks & Talks:
David has delivered talks to UWHG, Skipton and Craven History Society, and the Friends of Craven Museum on Eastby Mill, Benjamin Stone and the Parkers, and the links between Embsay and Lothersdale Hall and Stone Gappe.

Chris has given a talk on boundary stones to UWHG Jane and David ran a Graveyard Tour on St Mary’s Open Day in October.

Sue Stearn, and David Turner gave talks on local families as part of the Embsay Connected Family History day organised by local resident Grant Salisbury, and Jane gave a guided tour of the Whitfield Mill site.

2017 – upcoming talks etc.
David – Eastby Mill (Hetton-Rylstone-Cracoe History Group)
Jane & Sue – Churchyard Project “All Life is Here” (Friends of Craven Museum)

Jane – Churchyard Project – “Pomegranates & Weeping Maidens; the iconography of a local churchyard” (Skipton and Craven History Society)

Date to be announced:
David and Jane – Churchyard Tour (St Mary’s Church, Embsay)

Members of ERG are:
Jane Lunnon
Chris Lunnon
Ruth Spencer
Sue Stearn
Tony Stearn
Jennifer Stearn
David Turner
John Weatherill


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