During our workshops we found that there were lots of different aspects to consider when recording monuments from an archaeological perspective.
Your Memorial Name
This might be the name of the church or village, or perhaps local business that sponsored the memorial.
Who is commemorated?
Does the memorial record an individual or group? Are there some names included on memorials elsewhere? Perhaps different church communities erected their own memorials, or perhaps one memorial records all the fallen?
Remember to describe the landscape, e.g. is it near a road, or opposite the church door? Is it on a boundary, hidden away or in a prominent position? Observe the monument in the landscape and take photographs if you can. You can also use a map to understand the landscape.
Any previous locations?
Memorials are sometimes moved - perhaps a school or village hall has been closed, or a business moved? Sometimes memorials in the community are moved when areas are developed or if they are found to be vulnerable.
Many local historians have used their genealogical skills to add to the reading of memorials. This means listing those commemorated and using records to find out more about the individuals. Also look at the wording on your memorial. Our volunteers found that in several cases the community was quite divided about the wording to be used.
Description of the Monument.
There are lots of different ways communities chose to commemorate the fallen. You might find a cross on the village green or in the church, a plaque, a hall, a sports field, park or hospital.
Visual Impact of the Monument.
How easy is the monument to see? What symbols or styles can you observe and what do you think these are trying to say? Many designs reflect loss, unity, tragedy, comfort, nobility and a sense of enduring memory. Remember to photograph details!
What were you able to learn about the people who had the Memorial erected?
Businesses, local communities and individuals erected memorials. Sometimes we can find out more about the Committees formed to erect these memorials. Church and parish records can be useful. Any memorial in a church will have needed a faculty giving permission from the church authorities. Sometimes these include interesting debates, especially if changes are required.
Were you able to find any reports on the dedication ceremony?
The dedication ceremonies for memorials were often reported in local newspapers which can be found in local libraries or sometimes online. Who was present at the ceremony? Were there any speeches made?
Have you taken photographs yourself or found old images?
There may be images of the dedication ceremony of the memorial, and also Remembrance services held. It is interesting to take images of the memorial from different angles.
Is this Memorial recorded on the Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register?
This is a very useful resource to compliment and extend your research, and may contain further references to follow up in your local library and archive.
Volunteers photographing the memorial in Copmanthorpe