“Google Maps for Tombs” will make millions of memorials and final resting places available online
Project dubbed “Google Maps for Graves” will make millions of memorials and final resting places available online
- Surveyors have started scanning tombstones at 19,000 sites
- The seven-year project will create a database of resting places
- It promises to be a gold mine for amateur genealogists
- The first gravestones to be digitized were at St Bega’s Church in Cumbria
- Grasmere’s – William Wordsworth’s resting place – will also be scanned soon
- “Soon it will be possible to visit almost all the Anglican cemeteries in the country”
A “Google Maps for Graves” project is making millions of memorials available online.
Surveyors with high-tech £ 100,000 backpacks have started scanning tombstones at 19,000 sites.
“It looks a bit like Ghostbusters,” said Tim Viney of Cumbria-based Atlantic Geomatics, which works with the Church of England.
The first gravestones to be digitized were in the Old Church of St Bega on Lake Bassenthwaite, Cumbria.
The seven-year project will create a database that promises to be a gold mine for amateur genealogists.
Also among the first batch of cemeteries to inspect will be that of Grasmere, the resting place of William Wordsworth.
Among the first batch of cemeteries to be inspected will be nearby Grasmere – the resting place of William Wordsworth
Once the laborious task of building up the database is complete, it could also reduce the pressure on vicars inundated with queries from around the world from people looking for their English ancestors.
The Church of England has partnered with Cumbria-based surveying company Atlantic Geomatics, which will use backpack-mounted laser scanners costing over £ 100,000 each and equipped with five cameras, two scanners laser and a GPS tracker.
Surveyors walk through each alternate row of graves, scanning the position of every memorial, building, wall and tree, taking up to 50 million measurements in each cemetery.
Each operator is likely to be able to scan nine or ten sites per day before the data is processed using custom software.
Bishop Andrew Rumsey, Head of CofE for Church Buildings, said: “This impressive national project will make a huge difference to those looking for family history, while easing the administrative burden on parishes.
“Soon it will be possible to visit almost all the Anglican cemeteries in the country and see the location of the graves in real time.
“Soon it will be possible to visit almost all Anglican cemeteries in the country and see the location of the graves in real time,” Bishop Andrew Rumsey said.
“For those carrying out research remotely in the UK or abroad, the digital recordings will put detailed information on cemeteries at their fingertips.”
Basic information will likely be available for free when a new website goes live next year, with additional details available for paying subscribers.
Funding for the program has been provided by Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Caring for God’s Acre, a charity working for the preservation of cemeteries, as well as support for genealogical research websites.
A dramatic increase in the amount of searchable historical records available online has stimulated interest in family history, aided by television programs such as Who Do You Think You Are?
The Society of Genealogists has 11,000 members and there are family history groups and clubs in most towns in the UK.