Monumental Inscriptions

The Society organises a winter programme from September to March

As family historians, we recognise the usefulness of information to be found on gravestones. Many of our local churchyards are becoming neglected, overgrown and sometimes quite unsafe. We need to make transcriptions of the graves whilst we are able.

The Group has taken on the task of finishing the transcription of the graves in the churchyard at Heptonstall, which the Society began several years ago.


Like many, the Heptonstall churchyard was very overgrown, but thanks to two volunteers, it was cleared so we could access all the graves. This is now nearing completion but it is our intention to begin soon at some of the many graveyards in the area, which are at risk of becoming inaccessible.

If you would be interested in helping with this task. We are always looking for more volunteers.

Transcribing the graves in Heptonstall Churchyard

The old church at Heptonstall was the only church for the whole of the district for many years from the 11th century until other C of E churches were built. One of the first of these at Cross Stone now in Todmorden, (1670s), and also subsequently several non-conformist chapels, the first of which was Ebenezer on Market Street in the 1750s. Prior to this, Heptonstall was locally the only place where people could be buried.

Until the early 1630s graves were usually marked with a wooden surround or cross and so there are no identifiable locations for these graves. Stones began to be put on graves, initially to deter grave robbers, in the 17th and 18th century. Early gravestones were often only marked with the initials of the person and possibly a year date. As the 18th century progressed it became more common to mark a grave with more information. In Heptonstall, because of the scattered distribution of habitation and also the many locally shared surnames, it became the habit for people to also put their domicile on the stones. This is a great help to Family Historians as it helps to identify the various branches of each family.

The yard around the Heptonstall churches is a large area containing around 2000 gravestones. Of these we have now transcribed about 2000 and these transcriptions are to be found on the accompanying PDF. This is a continuation of the work carried out by Ken Stott several years ago until his death in 2003. We have used Ken’s plans of the old churchyard and in the main kept to his sectioning ideas.

There are three adjacent sections for burials:

  • The oldest is around the Old Church and graves here date back to about 1600,
  • The second part around the New Church with graves dating back to about 1830.
  • The third and newer churchyard is across Back Lane and was opened in 1911. There are some post 1911 graves and inscriptions still to be found in the old churchyard, especially where there were multiple plots. As the church records are still available for these graves, one of our members has painstakingly gridded the whole area and cross-referenced the graves and the records. Currently another group of local people are transcribing the graves in this churchyard.
  • Some changes have been made to the numbering and on this PDF you will find a map of the churchyard and grids of the graves in the various sections so far completed.
  • Around the old church are the oldest stones in the churchyard and many are very difficult to decipher. Many of the earlier gravestones only have initials and dates as identification and researchers may need to consult the parish registers to indentify relevant graves.
  • The sections behind the old church, K – R are fairly difficult to access, there are a fair number of trees and bushes to negotiate and many of the graves look as if they may have been re-laid. Many of these gravestones are earlier ones from the 16thC.
  • There are still some anomalies; the graves are rarely in straight rows, so the plans only give a rough idea of the positioning of the stones. It is usually best to count from the first grave of each row. In some cases, the rows may be indicated by the name on the first stone of the row, the method used by Ken Stott’s group.

If in doubt, please contact us via the Hebden Bridge Local History Society website.


Heptonstall Church Inscriptions

Heptonstall Graveyard map

Map Key to Heptonstall Old Churchyard Grave Transcriptions

Spring 2016 newsletter

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