Volunteers are combining old maps with the latest online technology to chart thousands of forgotten graves in a west Leeds cemetery.
Rodley resident John Barker understands there may be between 10,000 and 12,000 people buried in unmarked graves in the large lawns in St Peter’s Church graveyard, Bramley.
Over the years most of the gravestones have been removed – but the church has asked Mr Barker to use some old-fashion detective work to map out where the graves are after repeated requests from relatives who have loved ones buried there.
He’s been joined by fellow volunteers David Taylor and Nicola Holden in painstakingly logging 3,500 graves from a typed list from the 1970s onto a computer spreadsheet.
The volunteers have then tallied the typed list against the section and row from an old map they’ve been given by church officials (which we’ve reproduced above).
Mr Barker, who’s also one of the people behind the small group clearing war graves in nearby Bramley Baptist Church graveyard, said:
“We’ve been able to overlay all that information to produce a guide to where people are buried. We’re hard at work with it all now but hopefully in maybe six months time people will have guides so can pysically go to where their relatives’ graves are.
“We’re aiming to produce a website and printed guide for people.
“I believe several people would have been buried in each grave, so hopefully this will produce something for people looking to trace exactly where their relatives are – a lot of people have been asking about it.”
Mr Barker also has some old 30mm film slides of the cemetery and is hoping to incorporate these into the guides to show people what the grave stones would have looked like.
He added that the guides should be finished by the end of the year.
St Peter’s has been the parish church in Bramley for several centuries.