The Digital Library

A digital library of Historic British Mortuary Science & Investigation will outline the first history of pre-20th century burial, scientific history and archaeology.

This open access library of texts, images and records will assist Church policymakers, archaeologists, and researchers. It will provide advocates and policymakers much-needed evidence to inform their strategies and responses at local and national levels.

Linguistic analysis of library entries can reveal what has historically been considered ‘respectful treatment’ of the dead, contextualising and guiding how we ‘respectfully’ conduct and record such disturbances today. Cutting-edge digital analysis of the language used to report past mortuary investigations and reburials can reveal what has historically been considered 'respectful treatment', offering context and advice for how we 'respectfully' conduct and record such disturbances today.

This new knowledge can anchor ethical, procedural, and religious debates in their historic contexts; advance histories of science, medicine, religion, law and death; and guide practices and policies from academic, Church, and heritage sectors as custodians of our inherited dead.

If you would like to contribute material for the library, volunteer as a library beta-tester, or learn more about using the library, please contact



Costello, B. and Jenkins, J. (2023) ‘The Hospitaller preceptory of Slebech, Pembrokeshire: Interpreting social function and burial practice in the later Middle Ages’, Church Archaeology, 23, pp. 3-17

Gribomont, I. (2023). ‘OCR with Google Vision API and Tesseract’. Programming Historian,12. URL:

Nugent, R. (2020). ‘Burials in Churches’ in The Building Conservation Directory Special Report on Historic Churches: Twenty-Seventh Annual Edition. Eds. Taylor, J. Tisbury: Cathedral Communications. pp. 30-33. URL:

Twineham, T., Nugent, R. (2021). ‘Mutford’s Unusual Chancel Poses Questions’. Ipswich: The Round Tower Churches Society. URL:



Farrow, T.J. (forthcoming in 2024) Charnel-Associated Burial and Monuments in Late Medieval England: Henry Barton’s Effigy and its Afterlife at Old St Paul’s Cathedral. Church Archaeology 24.

Nugent, R., Farrow, T.J., and Foster, K. (forthcoming in 2024) ‘Encountering Human Remains Inside Historic Churches’ in Emplaced Belief: Heritage & Religion Reconsidered. Eds. Berghahn.

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