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Google maps for graves: How you will be able to find your ancestors final resting place


Google has sent dedicated mappers around the world since it launched its maps service in 2005. Cars and sometimes people decked in video capture technology have stalked neighbourhoods for nearly two decades to provide a reliable tool for traversing the world. Now, surveyors hope to use the tech giant’s methods to direct people to their ancestors with a grave finder tool.

Tim Viney, the owner of Penrith-based land surveyors Atlantic Geomatics, plans to traverse Church of England graveyards in a monumental surveying task.

Historic England, the National Lottery, Family Search, and My Heritage genealogy sites have funded four teams to trek across the country’s 19,000 gravesites.

Each team, equipped with backpack laser scanners costing £100,000 each, need to map and photograph each site’s grave, headstone and memorial.

The undertaking, according to Mr Viney, will eventually create “Google Maps for graves”.

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His UK-centred project would make information “more fully and freely accessible than ever before”, according to Andrew Rumsey, the Bishop of Ramsbury and lead bishop for church buildings.

The undertaking comes with a side quest for Mr Viney’s teams not supported by other grave explorers.

They hope to incorporate data from a nationwide “biodiversity survey” in their findings.

The data will identify flora and fauna growing in the explored churchyards, which host some of the UK’s rarer specimens.

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