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Tuesday, March 27 • 2:00pm - 6:15pm
2 - Re-reading the British Memorial: RTI and memorial inscriptions in British churches

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Re-reading the British Memorial: RTI and memorial inscriptions in British churchesThis paper will describe the initial findings of a project which has sought, in collaboration with local history and photography groups, to develop a methodology for Reflectance Transformation Imaging as a means of documenting and interpreting church inscriptions and memorials.Churches and cemeteries constitute a physical historical archive of the communities which they serve. The inscriptions and memorials found throughout churches and their grounds provide a valuable textual record of the history of the community within which they are situated. The materials, styles and craft exhibited in memorials provide insights into the people who commissioned and created them.Attempts to document church inscriptions using traditional methods have been moderately successful. However technical limitations have resulted in a fragmentary record with weathered inscriptions often remaining unreadable. Furthermore, traditional documentation techniques have been largely unable to meaningfully represent materials, tool-markings, erosion levels and other significant data.The value of RTI as a technique for recording and reading inscriptions has been demonstrated in several case studies. The technique also has great value in the degree to which it is easy to use and affordable. Consequently it represents a highly suitable method not just for the academic community but also for community groups to record, study and disseminate material from churches. Local-level participation, alongside national collaborations, documenting and disseminating inscriptions using RTI has the potential to greatly improve understandings of, and access to, this unique and nationally important collection of material.The purpose of the project has been to demonstrate RTI to local churches. Through collaborations with local history groups and photography groups, gravestones and memorials are recorded using RTI. As well as assisting these groups in the recording process the project has also trained group members in the use of a methodology for the adoption of the technique using their own equipment so that they can continue to use RTI and can train others. The project has also offered assistance to these groups to disseminate results of these recording sessions online, with an aim to make these collections available, not only for local, but for national and international study.


Gareth Beale

University of Southampton
My PhD is an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award, with Herculaneum Conservation Project and the University of Southampton.

Tuesday March 27, 2012 2:00pm - 6:15pm BST
Building 65, 1177 Streamed into room 1095

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