Carrying Out a Graveyard Survey - Guidelines
The Record Sheets
The record sheets used in the Parish of Traprain surveys are based on those from Betty Willsher's book "How to Record Scottish Graveyards", 1985, ISBN 0-901352-09-8, published by The Council for Scottish Archaeology.
The example sheet shows the clearest way to fill in the front side. Based on the experience of transcribing many hundreds of these, this format was found to be the easiest to read when entering the data at the computer keyboard.
It's important to use clean copies of the record sheets. Always make copies from a good clean original. Repeated photocopying causes an accumulation of spots and blemishes which made it difficult or impossible to tell if a mark on the sheet is genuine punctuation in the inscription or not.
Record the inscription exactly as seen, upper or lower case, spelling mistakes and corrections by the mason included. This is where the computer database cannot replace the hand-written record sheet, only supplement it. It's best to keep the database in plain text to give widest compatibility when the data is exported for use in other applications.
It's best to produce a draft copy on site and transfer neatly to a clean sheet at home.
It's a worthwhile exercise for the whole group to record a few stones together to develop a clear and consistent approach to the recording, identify the different styles of stone, materials used, inscription and decoration techniques, and clarify any uncertainties in the procedure.
It is also worthwhile, if possible, having "checkers" who go round the graveyard reviewing photocopies of the completed record sheets to try to maintain consistency in the interpretation of the stones' features and to discover any obvious errors or omissions. Corrections added in red to these copies are then transferred neatly to the originals.