ST AUGUSTINE’S CHURCH FINDS OUT WHERE THOSE BODIES ARE BURIED

Temporarily poised on top of two gravestones are GPS tranceivers which feed data back to the mobile receiver and help fix the positions of all the monuments around them

Something looks slightly different about the graves in  St Augustines. Temporarily poised on top of two gravestones were GPS tranceivers which feed data back to the mobile receiver and help fix the positions of all the monuments in the vicinity

All the graves and many of the major features of St Augustine’s Church Penarth are being scientifically mapped by lasers, cameras and computers in one of four pilot projects currently under way

The job is being carried out by a company called Atlantic Geomatics which specialises in literally finding out ‘where the bodies are buried’ by producing an electronic map and database of the graveyard which is to be cross references with the handwritten burial records.

The original St Augustine's Church stood for for nearly 700 years

The original St Augustine’s Church stood for nearly 700 years

The graveyard of St Augustines is much older than the present church dates and dates back to -at least – the 12th century when the ancient original St Augustine’s church existed on the site. The old mediaeval church with its saddleback tower was replaced with the much larger St Augustine’s Church in 1865-66.

No one is quite sure exactly how many graves there are in the St Augustine’s churchyard – but from the burial records it appears that more than 8,000 people have their last resting place at St Augustines  – many buried in single family graves .

This week the location of every visible grave has been mapped using GPS positioning equipment and Atlantic Geomatics’s high-tech electronic mapping techniques.

A four-wheel drive GPS equipped buggy was brought in to map the graveyard

A four-wheel drive GPS-equipped  buggy was trailered in by the equipment suppliers the Korec Group for Atlantic Geomatics to map the graveyard

The Aibot hexacopter was to have mapped the graveyard frrom the air but was grounded by the weather

The Aibot hexacopter was to have mapped the graveyard from the air but was grounded by the weather

It had been intended to fly a remote-control  aerial drone – an  Aibot X6 hexacopter  armed with GPS and camera – to map the graveyard and every grave , but unfortunately the weather ruled out this option.

Instead the team resorted instead to using a narrow four-wheel drive quad-bike also equipped with computers and GPS, to weave its way around the gravestones and monuments to pick up as much data as possible

Manually operated nylon-line strimmers are used at St Augustines to avoid damage to the gravestones - some of which are over 200 years old

Manually operated nylon-line strimmers are used at St Augustines to avoid damage to the gravestones – some of which are over 200 years old

A team of gardeners had been at work in the graveyard beforehand to bring the lush long grass down low enough to reveal all the memorials and tombstones.

Last year the Friends of St Augustine’s, with the agreement of the Parochial Church Council, commissioned an ecological study of the churchyard.  As a result of this study, many species of wildlife and wild flowers have been identified.

To encourage this diversity to flourish, the grass in parts of the churchyard will now only be cut on a rotational basis to preserve the habitat.

A laser scanner rotates slowly around its axis electronically recording the positions of every plaque and monument inside the church

A laser mapping scanner rotates slowly around its axis electronically recording the positions of every plaque and monument inside the church in 3D.

Inside the church itself, all the many plaques and memorials on the walls were being scanned and their positions logged using a laser scanning device set up at various positions inside the building – with all the data again being recorded on computer.

The project is being overseen by Tim Viney of Atlantic Geomatics working with Linda Guilfoyle of St Augustine’s.

A series of plaques representing the stations of the cross were installed in memory of Joseph and Mary Damaris Rose

A series of plaques representing the 14 stations of the cross were installed in memory of Joseph and Mary Damaris Rose

Atlantic Geomatics have also  electronically scanned all the handwritten burial registers of St Augustines .

Friends of St Augustine’s teams of volunteers will now transcribe the  burial register data  – which goes back to 1813 – and compare the gravestone data with the burial records to establish exactly who is buried where.

One of the wall memorials is for Commander Walter Murray Pengelly of the British Indian Navy and Hon Secof the RNLI "A true friend of the sailor"

One of the wall memorials is for Commander Walter Murray Pengelly of the British Indian Navy and Hon Secretary of the Penarth RNLI  and “A true friend of the sailor” who died in 1897

The Diocese of Llandaff supported the project and paid for the survey carried out. The electronic map itself will take about four weeks to produce but the key task of cross-referencing the burial records to the physical graves will be done manually and could take many months.

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time.
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4 Responses to ST AUGUSTINE’S CHURCH FINDS OUT WHERE THOSE BODIES ARE BURIED

  1. Mgg says:

    A very interesting body of work . But quite tomb consuming .

  2. Ivor Bagman says:

    Would it be possible to peruse the hand written
    Burial Registers ? My grandfather told me 50 years ago
    that we have relatives buried there.

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    The burial registers are almost certainly at the Glamorgan Archives at Clos Morganwg, off Sloper Road. Walk into the foyer, sit at a computer terminal and search for ‘Plwyf’ …and that’s it, No need for appointment or Readers Ticket and staff will help if you have problems

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