September 28, 2021

Gravestones on the North Yorkshire Moors

I hadn’t planned to head up onto the Yorkshire Moors just before Christmas but that’s what I did after being contacted from this website in early December.

I was asked to go to Westerdale and take photographs of around a dozen family graves there. Now, I had to admit I didn’t know where on earth it was but a check on Google maps showed it was right up at the top of the moors toward Stokesley. It looked pretty isolated and the moors can be a bleak place in Winter so I had to pick my day carefully.

On the 19th the weather forecaster said it would be sunny and not too cold for this time of day so off I set. It only took about 40 minutes to get to Stokesley but it got a bit slower from then on. We were soon on the single track moor road and headed up over the steep Northern end of the moors and down into a steep ravine, through a ford (with depth markers showing up to 6ft!), then through another ford (with a road over it but still with depth markers) and then up into Westerdale.

Westerdale Ford

Westerdale Ford (no 2)

The village was actually bigger than I expected, quite a community actually, and the church itself was really quite impressive.

Westerdale church

Westerdale church

We had a list of all the gravestones with the monumental inscriptions and each one was numbered and grouped in sections with titles such as “South Side” etc., so we set about looking for the correct family graves. We soon realised that the numbering system didn’t follow any logical sequence and whoever listed them must have used a Christmas cracker compass – the “East side” graves were actually found on the South West of the Churchyard!

Once we sorted out where everything was I set about taking a good few photos of each grave, evidently taking a photo at a slight angle shows up the inscription better. Most were in good condition but some were very difficult to read.

Gravestone photography

I actually hadn’t considered offering location photography as a service but I really enjoyed the trip and the photos came out well. I’m not sure I want to head up there again in December though, it was 8 degrees in York and 1 in Westerdale and there was a bitter wind too!


  1. Carol Moore-Ingraham says

    To Paul Thomas-Peter ~
    Thank you for your help and assistance on family genealogy,
    C. Moore-Ingraham

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