There are several factors that might stimulate such research, and of course family histories remain among those themes most relevant to communities today. The very personal and sensitive nature of working in grave yards brings with it its own considerations, when analysing family plots for instance, the researcher may well encounter narratives which are touching, emotionally challenging, aspects which can serve to create a much closer connection between researcher and subject. But with a conservation hat on, it should perhaps be a sense of urgency which stimulates work in this area, for all the value that might be derived from these monuments, their fragility is all too frequently on display.
Research in this area is easily conducted. Pencil, paper, tape measure and a camera are all good starting places. Some monuments, especially those made of old red sandstone, will sadly have only a finite lifespan regardless of our interventions, but it is with this in mind that the importance of recording what we can, while we can, is paramount. So, if you are at a research loose end over a weekend or during the summer, look no further than your local grave yard, the evidence is there, waiting to be recorded, and in an increasing number of cases, waiting to be saved.