2020 Headstone Survey

Background and Introduction

In late 2019 the Friends of St Illtyd initiated a project to photograph all the extant gravestones in the churchyard of St Illtyd’s and to plot them on an interactive map, which would be searchable by name of grave occupants. The reason for doing this was two-fold: firstly, to provide a user-friendly accessible resource for people researching their family histories; and secondly, to make a visual record of an important element of local heritage that is gradually but inexorably disappearing. The churchyard at St Illtyd’s is in an exposed position and the gravestones are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of the weather, which has already led to severe damage to, and, in many cases, total loss of the inscriptions on the headstones. The Friends felt that it was imperative that a visual record be made before any more were lost. These gravestones provide a trove of often fascinating details which throw important light on the social history of the area, with much information to be gleaned that cannot be found via other sources.

It should be noted that this is not quite yet a fully complete record, as quite a number of headstones were very overgrown by vegetation so couldn’t be photographed (due to Covid, the annual cutting back of the vegetation in the churchyard didn’t happen this year). Additions to the map will be made as and when previously obscured headstones are revealed in future.

It should also be noted that there are a number of gravestones photographed and plotted on the map that have no readable inscriptions; these are described as ‘Unknown’, but they are still of interest for the record.

December 2020

We would like to thank ...

The project to create this interactive map was only made possible by the generous financial support of the Community Council of Abertillery and Llanhilleth (thanks in particular to councillor Gary Oakley), and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Welsh Church Fund.The continuing support of Councillors Lee Parsons and Joanne Collins for the old church and the work of the Friends has also made this project possible. The Friends commissioned Ian Fewings of the Aberystruth History and Archaeology Society to carry out the project. Ian photographed the headstones, made transcriptions of the inscriptions where this was possible, and plotted the stones into Google MyMaps GIS Layer. Many thanks are due to Ian for the innovative way he approached the project, and the excellent execution of it. Helen of the Friends cross-referenced and edited the transcriptions and enhanced the name index.

I have a comment

We would love to hear from you if you find a mistake or have more info you would like to share about a family member, please email friends@illtyd.co.uk

We hope in the future that each grave record can be commented on and linked to from Family tree sites like Ancestry, Findmypast and MyHeritage.

If anyone has expertise of converting google GIS layers to webpages, we would love to hear from you ! Ideally we would like something like the Monmouthshire County Council one


Do you have any more Grave Photos ? How do I zoom into a grave Image ?

We have been taking photos of the graves in St Illtyd for over 20 years now, these photos can be found and zoomed in on by clicking one of the following links

Ian's 2020 photos - You can zoom into the pictures using this view of the Grave Stone Photos

Pre 2020 Grave Photos

You should be able to leave a comment for us and others to see on the above links, but please also get in touch by email friends@illtyd.co.uk

The records in the Map that begin with X are those we have come across during quality checking that we don't have a 2020 photo of but do have an earlier photo, so they are a work in progress. If you have any info on them please get in touch. friends@illtyd.co.uk

How do I Search the map for a name ?

By clicking on the icon at the top right of the window below, a new full screen window should appear, In the red bar at the top left there is a magnifying glass symbol. to search the database click on the magnifying glass then enter a name.

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