3. Results

3.1 Gravestone survey and watching brief

3.1.1 Gravestone survey

Gravestones to the rear (west) and northern side of the chapel were recorded. The landscaped area to the front of the chapel was not affected by the proposed works and was therefore not included within the survey. Details of the methodology used and the results of the survey are provided.

Of the 40 grave slabs, 17 carried an inscription legible in whole or in part. Twenty slabs bore traces of an inscription that was no longer legible owing to wear on the upper surfaces of the slabs. Three slabs showed no trace of an inscription, although two of these had a decorative border. In general, inscriptions were located towards the tops of the grave slabs, with a blank section near the bottom. This suggests that most of the stones were originally set upright in the ground, and had adequate space to add more names as new interments were made.

The 17 legible inscriptions recorded during the survey listed 42 named burials. Given the evidence from other city centre burial grounds in Sheffield, it is almost certain that this reflected the reuse of grave plots for multiple interments. Most gravestones listed one to four individuals, although as many as seven individuals were recorded on one slab (Table 1). Partial inscriptions were noted on five slabs, suggesting that more individuals may have been listed in the illegible sections. In all cases the reuse of graves took place within a family plot.

Thirty-four dates of death were also recorded, ranging from 1717 to 1858, with at least one date in each decade. The majority (21 dates) fell in the range 1780-1840, but the highest number of deaths in any decade fell within the 1720s, with six recorded deaths.

When the existing grave slabs were lifted, it was noted that the gravestones sat on top of a layer of cinder material (coal, coke and slag fragments), which probably represented the latest 19th-century levelling of the yard surface. Gravestone 37 sat on top of a stone plinth, which raised it above the surface of the yard, and the removal of the gravestone revealed the presence of handmade bricks bonded with lime mortar within the boundary of the plinth. The removal of the bricks and the stone plinth revealed the existence of another stone slab, directly underneath the bricks, which was left in position. Ground levels across the yard were lowered by up to 0.30m, but no human remains were disturbed and no other graves were encountered apart from those that had been marked by the gravestones above. A second stone slab was observed to lie underneath the cinder material within the area of Gravestone 13, and again this lower slab was left in position.

Figure 3

Figure 3: Location of repositioned gravestones

A number of the gravestones were re-laid following the reduction of ground levels, though some were considered to be too fragmentary and were either stored by the chapel or destroyed. The retained stones were not replaced in their original locations but repositioned at the western end of the yard (Fig. 3).


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