The project, called “Google Maps for Graves”, will make millions of memorials and final resting places available online
- Surveyors have started scanning headstones at 19,000 locations
- The seven-year project will create a database of resting places
- It promises to be a gold mine for amateur genealogists
- The first tombstones scanned were in St. Bega’s Church in Cumbria
- Grasmere’s – the resting place of William Wordsworth – will also be scanned soon
- “It will soon be possible to visit almost all Anglican burial sites in the country”
A project by âGoogle Maps for Gravesâ aims to make millions of memorial sites accessible online.
Surveyors with high-tech backpacks valued at Â£ 100,000 have started scanning tombstones at 19,000 locations.
“It looks a bit like Ghostbusters,” said Tim Viney of Cumbrian-based Atlantic Geomatics, which works with the Church of England.
The first tombstones to be scanned were in the old church of St. Bega on Lake Bassenthwaite in Cumbria.
The seven-year project will create a database that promises to become a gold mine for amateur genealogists.
One of the first cemeteries to be investigated was the nearby Grasmere’s – the resting place of William Wordsworth.
One of the first cemeteries to be surveyed was the nearby Grasmere’s – the resting place of William Wordsworth
Once the tedious task of compiling the database is completed, it could also ease the pressure on pastors, who are inundated with inquiries from around the world from people researching their English ancestors.
The Church of England has partnered with Cumbria-based surveying company Atlantic Geomatics, which will use backpack-mounted laser scanners that cost more than Â£ 100,000 each and come with five cameras, two laser scanners and a GPS tracker.
Surveyors walk every other row of graves, scan the position of every monument, building, wall and tree and take up to 50 million measurements in every cemetery.
Each employee will likely be able to scan nine or ten locations a day before processing the data with custom software.
Bishop Andrew Rumsey, CofE Director of Church Buildings, said: âThis impressive national project will make a huge difference in family history research and reduce the administrative burden on the ward.
âIt will soon be possible to visit almost every Anglican burial site in the country and see the location of burial sites in real time.
“It will soon be possible to visit almost every Anglican burial site in the country and see the location of burial sites in real time,” said Bishop Andrew Rumsey
“For those doing remote research in the UK or abroad, the digital records will provide detailed information from cemeteries.”
Basic information will likely be available for free when a new website goes online next year, more details are available to paying subscribers.
The program was sponsored by Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Caring for God’s Acre, a charity that works to preserve burial sites, and genealogy websites.
A tremendous increase in searchable historical records available online has increased interest in family history, aided by television programs like Who Do You Think You Are?
The Society of Genealogens has 11,000 members and there are genealogical groups and clubs in most cities in the UK.