Treasured Remains to bring historic graveyards to life
Get involved in historic graveyards
Individuals and groups are being offered the unique opportunity to get involved in Treasured Remains - a project celebrating four of the most historically significant graveyards in the Clyde and Avon Valley, between now and next January.
The series of FREE workshops will explore the histories of New Lanark Burial Ground, St Patrick’s Churchyard within Dalzell Estate, St Michael’s Churchyard at Cambusnethan and St Ninian’s Churchyard in Stonehouse. Each graveyard tells its own story in the tapestry of the area’s history, as final resting places for our Clyde and Avon Valley ancestors.
Participants will work with conservation experts from Archaeology Scotland and Kirkyard Consulting to carry out vital research and recording, in order to understand the extent and current condition of the graveyards, update existing records and raise awareness of this rich part of the area’s history and heritage.
They will assist in creating plans containing the position of the main graveyard features, full records for each gravestone and lichen surveys for each site. In doing so, participants will have the opportunity to learn how to use specialist techniques such as geophysics and light techniques.
The project is managed by Archaeology Scotland in association with Kirkyard Consulting and Spectrum Heritage, and is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP). Watch the video below with Susan Buckham from Kirkyard Consulting.
Graveyard Detectives – Illustrated talk and family activities to launch the project. Saturday 9 September, New Lanark, 1-4pm
Uncovering Buried Tombstones – probing for and uncovering the buried stones so that the graveyard can be better recorded. Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September, St Patrick’s Churchyard, Dalzell Estate, 10am-4pm
Tomb Readers: Throwing New Light on Worn Inscriptions with Digital Photography – Learn how to use Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to take photos capturing a surface’s shape and colour using lights at different angles, to help uncover inscriptions and designs difficult to see with the naked eye. Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 October, St Patrick's Kirkyard, Dalzell Estate, 10am-4pm and Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February, St Michael’s Churchyard, Cambusnethan, 10am-4pm
What Lies Beneath? Discovering Graveyard Geophysics – Learn how geophysics is used to identify the hidden heritage that lies below the ground. Sunday 29 October, St Ninian’s Graveyard, Stonehouse, 10am-4pm
Telling Tales: An Introduction to Graveyard Research and Interpretation – Ever wonder where to find more information about a graveyard or how to explain the rich and unique history of a site to the general public? Come along to these workshops and we will take you through the journey from finding out more to presenting that information in an engaging way. Saturday 9 December, St Ninian’s Graveyard, Stonehouse, 10am-4pm and Saturday 13 January, New Lanark Burial Ground, 10am-4pm
Graveyards are a rich but slowly decaying part of the nation’s heritage, which suffer at the hands of weathering, erosion, limited resources, anti-social behaviour and lack of awareness of their value as local green spaces. Through Treasured Remains, participants will play a vital role in the conservation of these fascinating resources, helping to revitalise them as well-loved community resources of important historical value.
Susan Buckham of Kirkyard Consulting says, “Conservation begins by working together to better understand the heritage we have, why it’s important, and any threats it might face. We urge people to sign up to the workshops to help us investigate what can be seen on the ground today, how it has survived, and what might lie beneath the surface. We will explore graveyard records and unearth local tales and memories to unlock the secrets of our stone libraries.”
Ewan Bachell, CAVLP Development Officer for Treasured Remains, explains how each Graveyard tells a different story, contributing to the distinct historical character of the area: “St Michael’s Churchyard, Cambusnethan, contains 129 gravestones and is notable for its collection of medieval gravestones and five mausolea. St Patrick’s Churchyard, Dalzell Estate, is comprised of over 193 memorials and three elements - St Patrick’s Churchyard, the Hamilton of Dalzell Mausoleum (dated 1798, built using stone from the demolished St Patrick’s Kirk) and a 20th century pet cemetery.”
He continues, “St Ninian’s Churchyard, Stonehouse, is one of the best collections of the 18th century gravestone carvings in the region, including emblems of mortality, immorality and trade symbols. Made up of 424 gravestones, it contains a ruined gable and bellcote of the former church believed to be of 9th century foundation.”
“Perhaps most unusual is New Lanark Burial Ground, which was established in the late 18th century by the utopian socialists David Dale and Robert Owen, as a non-denominational burial ground for the industrial village. Within this wooded Clyde Valley site, there are 120 headstones and one single ledger stone, all of which are predominantly small, un-inscribed and irregular in form. They are dated up until 1900 and are unusual in the absence of carvings, and, in some cases, inscriptions – only 23 out of 120 are inscribed.”
The Clyde and Avon Valley graveyards are also important in the area’s Covenanter history, containing one memorial in St Michael’s Churchyard, Cambusnethan, and two memorials in St Ninian’s Churchyard, Stonehouse.
Treasured Remains is informed by a Conservation Strategy for Historic Graveyards in the Clyde and Avon Valley undertaken by Kirkyard Consultants in 2011. It is part of a series of projects in the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) scheme that focus on conserving, researching, recording and raising awareness of historic graveyards in the area. This includes the current programme of improvement work currently taking place at Dalzell Estate, in Motherwell with North Lanarkshire Council. Read the Conservation Strategy by clicking the ‘Treasured Remains’ link here, or read the report below.