Halton Churchyard-Groma and Pig

So the PCC want Halton Churchyard surveyed. ? There is a problem with the graveyard you see, there isn’t an overall plan of who lies where. The   graveyard is still “open” or available for burials, so we need to find out where to put future burials. The Victorians simplified the process by digging up the deceased and pushing them into heaps on spare land to make way for more important people. However, those days have long gone and we need to respect the sanctity of those who have passed away. Enter the“ volunteers” as defined by the Vicar.

Having consulted Edward Pybus (most helpful)  and Northumberland Archives who provided a photo, the amateur surveyors Richard and John set off into the teeth of a westerly gale to start the process. R had been up early to make a Groma (Roman Surveyors Friend) and J had lifted a 20m long steel tape from a near relative.

Have you ever tried to walk in a straight line across a graveyard? Our advice is just don’t try it. The Halton Pig got in the way, ably assisted by a thorny climber. Carefully lined up baselines disappeared behind multiple memorials pretending they were trooping the colour.

We feel very proud of our efforts having constructed two baselines running North-South, one at each end of the Church. We will measure the positions of grave memorials from these lines. J did the maths and was very concerned about the diagonal of a rectangle. His diagonal should have been in the ratio of 3 to 4 to 5, but turned out at 3 to 4 to 4.9678.

R was more concerned that over-accurate measuring could result in the surveyors becoming wetter and colder than strictly necessary. At that point we gave in, wrapped up the Groma, said goodbye to the Pig, and scuttled back to Corbridge for coffee and biscuits.

The marked and unmarked graves are of course being treated with respect. Later in the work we will be making a record of grave positions and surviving inscriptions. This record will be circulated, particularly among relatives, for information and confirmation of the survey records.