Transcribing Memorial Inscriptions
Suggestions & Ideas on how to record graveyards.
This website on Monumental Inscriptions was designed to help others in transcribing church and chapel grave yards.
Gravematters is dedicated to helping those many interested people, team leaders and volunteers of primarily the Oxfordshire and Berkshire Family History Societies, who are involved in transcribing the information written upon our two counties' crumbling monuments.
Transcriber volunteers may have different ways of conducting these surveys, but I hope that I have noted what I consider are important ways of conducting a transcription of monumental inscriptions, at least within Oxfordshire and North Berkshire.
The earliest deciperable stone in Standlake Churchyard, Oxfordshire.
-------- WHO DEPA/
RTED THE 22 DA/
AMO DOME 1660//
The Burial Register says 'WILLIAM BOSLEE buried December 1660'.
Was he BOSLEE?
Many visitors to this website, may wonder why on earth we transcribe memorial stones. Why go to this trouble? Why do we want to do this?
Firstly, these stones are an essential part of our heritage and we as a nation are not taking enough care to preserve these. Their inscriptions are disappearing rapidly, and these are of vital importance to family, local and community historians. The types of lettering and decoration etched upon the stones, are also of great interest and value, as are the church windows and furniture. It is a sad fact that much genealogical and other information engraved upon these stones is being lost by wind, weather and man himself.
During the 1940's to 1960's, and led by the Society of Genealogists, interested people became involved with a national work, to collect monumental inscriptions from graveyards. Memorial inscriptions establish family relationships particularly prior to the first informative census of 1851. Prior to this time, the most important source of family information is found in Parish registers and these do not always convey relationships.
When the Federation of Family History Societies was formed in 1974, the collection of Memorial Inscriptions was further encouraged and one of their many projects was to compile a database of all Monumental Inscriptions throughout Great Britain. The Oxfordshire Family History Society has been involved in this project since the Society was formed in 1976.
An English Churchyard in Spring time
Here Lyeth a decaying Body of Historical Evidence
that should be Recorded before it crumbles into Dust
or is Destroyed by the work of Vandals
Stand still reader, and let fall a tear
For the facts engravèd here
And then make haste, transcribe these lines
Learn while ye may the meaning of these signs.
Preserve these stones, avert the crime
Snatch history from the hands of time.
[With the kind permission of Rescue]