Third-year students Sophie and Nathaniel recording a three-stepped cross memorial beside the main path through Overleigh cemetery
The student group busy recording memorials in Overleigh cemetery

Well, we have a poor start in week 1, a good second week and recently we went back for a third week to record memorials at Overleigh cemetery. I have previously discussed our Overleigh cemetery archaeological survey here, herehere and here.

IMG_6568We were doing this as part of data acquisition for a third-year undergraduate archaeology student project. The students are investigating mortuary variability for their module Death and Burial. Victorian and Edwardian memorials are an excellent case study, allowing the students to acquire, analyse and interpret a body of material evidence in relation to contemporary debates in mortuary archaeology.

third-year student Bethany double-checking the accuracy of our records

It was a great third week, and we recorded as many memorials as we had in the previous two sessions combined. I was very proud of the hard work, attention to detail and good humour of the students as they not only recorded, but also checked each others work for quality and accuracy.

French exchange student Fiona recording a complex late Victorian memorial

Most importantly, we beat the previous year by recording 206 memorials: in 2014 last year’s third-year students had recorded 204!  The students knew we were trying to beat the previous year and we came from behind to win through.

Nothing like a bit of mortuary competition! Yet, in all seriousness, the emphasis was on accuracy and quality rather than speed. Furthermore, each memorial is so different that it is diffucult to predict the speed of progress: some memorials are easy to record, others take a phenomenal amount of time recording worn and fragmentary text and trying to sketch and identify complex ornamentation. Far more important that the numbers of memorials recorded was the hard work, confidence and dedication of my student group.

Sincere thanks to Cheshire West and Chester Council for granting us permission to do this project in Overleigh cemetery.