A guide to finding burial locations and grave plans for County Durham.
This guide explains some of the problems when attempting to find burial locations, and lists the useful grave plans available at Durham Record Office.
To find the location of a grave you first need to find which cemetery or churchyard a person is buried in, perhaps by looking in burial registers, and then look for the grave location using grave registers and grave plans.
To complement our lists of churchyard burial records (see below) we sell a guide to Cemeteries in County Durham, which lists civil cemeteries in the county and shows where records for these are available. There are lists of non-conformist cemeteries and churchyard extensions at the end of this book. Please contact us to buy a copy.
Parish burial registers
Church of England burial registers generally give a date of burial, the name of the person and sometimes an address and age (for more details please see information about parish registers in the Family History section of our website). These registers are currently on microfilm.
Burial register entries occasionally give references to burial grounds or grave plot locations in notes in the margin.
For details on coverage of parish registers please search church registers, our parish and nonconformist registers database.
While most burial registers are for Church of England graveyards there are some nonconformist burial grounds which have registers too. Roman Catholic churches keep a register of deaths which will often also give details of burials, whether in their own churchyard or in another cemetery.
Parish grave registers and grave plans
Churches, from the mid 19th century onwards, will often have kept a register of grave space allocations in the churchyard, with an accompanying plan. This often refers to a particular part of the churchyard, often a new extension.
Where a churchyard is still in use the church may still have a plan and register, but where the graveyard has been closed for new burials most of these plans have not survived. The plans were often kept by the sexton or another officer, rather than in the parish chest or vestry safe. When a churchyard was closed the plans were forgotten about, as they would no longer be in daily use, and over time they simply disappeared.
Grave registers are listed in our church registers database along with burial registers.
Grave plans are listed in the table below.
We have many transcripts and indexes of monumental inscriptions carved on gravestones. Various lists and plans have been compiled by antiquarians and local historians concerned by the fading of inscriptions and also by the tidying of graveyards and relocation of gravestones, from the Victorian period onwards. They attempt to record the inscriptions on gravestones and memorials in churches and churchyards. They can only include inscriptions still legible on the minority of graves that had written markers, and there is no guarantee that they mark the actual burial place of the persons listed on them.
Civil cemetery records
Until the 19th century, the overwhelming majority of the population were buried in parish churchyards. The Society of Friends (Quakers) maintained their own burial grounds but few other nonconformists did so. With the increase in population and the growth of large towns in the 19th century, the Church of England churchyards were no longer able to provide enough space and other provision had to be made. In the early part of the century many private cemeteries were opened by private act of parliament, but most cemeteries were opened under various Burial Acts from 1852 to 1906 and were run by local authorities, in most cases a burial board. Later acts allowed parish councils and district councils to take over the powers of the burial boards.
Some cemeteries had areas set aside for the interment, unmarked, of infants. Some burial boards recorded the interment of stillborn babies.
Civil or municipal cemeteries are now managed by a local authority (the civil parish council or unitary authority) and, in most cases, registers of burials and registers of grave spaces are still in the custody of the managing body. Sometimes a copy can be found at a record office or library. These documents may include records of grave purchase, grave plans, grave registers and databases of burials. Some are available online and there are links on our cemetery and crematorium records page.
Some of the records have been microfilmed and are made available in the Record Office. These are listed on our monumental inscriptions, cemetery and crematorium registers guide. If you are unable to find details of the relevant cemetery or crematorium please contact us.
Other sources of information
Anglican churches, and some nonconformist churches, keep registers of services. These should include funeral services and may contain information about burials in civil cemeteries.
Local newspapers may print obituaries or funeral notices giving information about burials.
Cremations are recorded primarily at the crematorium. Sometimes the records include a note on the location of the interment of ashes. Some church registers record interment of ashes either in a burial register or in a separate register. This is often in an area of the churchyard or cemetery set aside for the purpose. There may also be a record in a church’s register of services if there was a funeral service as well as a cremation ceremony.
The table below lists burial grounds where we hold useful grave plans. Plans with plot numbers are only useful if we hold a corresponding grave register, or a burial register which includes plot numbers.
Plan contents can vary enormously and may include:
- names or initials of the dead
- plot numbers or co-ordinates
- register entry reference numbers
- burial dates.
The approximate date range given here for the graves on each plan has been estimated by comparison with the burial and grave registers.
List of grave plans
|Burial Ground location||Grave Plan reference (and/or microfilm no.)||Grave Plan contents (including approximate date range)|
|Aycliffe, St. Andrew||EP/Ay 1/22||Names, plot numbers and dates (c.1936-1970)|
|Barnard Castle, Victoria Road Cemetery||M78/41||Names in 'new cemetery C of E area' (up to 1976)|
|Barnard Castle, Victoria Road Roman Catholic Cemetery||RC/BC 1/9 M5/101||Sketch plan of plot numbers, at back of register, relating to register entries (1896-1974)|
|Bishopwearmouth, St. Michael||EP/Biw 437-439||Monumental inscriptions in two sides of churchyard|
|Blackhall Colliery Cemetery||CP/MH 82||Plot numbers, of limited use; plan relates to registers of memorials and of war graves (1941-1989)|
|Brandon Village Cemetery, Pit Lane||EP/Brd 4/13||Plot numbers and 23 Names in Section 'G' only (but no plot numbers given in registers)|
|Burnopfield, St. James||EP/Bur 4/66||Plot numbers; plan relates to marginal numbers in burial register (1873-1901)|
|Burnopfield, St. James||EP/Bur 4/67/1-3||Plot numbers; 67/1 also includes names (1931-1962)|
|Castle Eden, St. James||EP/CE 24||Names (possibly 1896-1912)|
|Castle Eden, St. James||EP/CE 109/3||Names in northern extension (c.1920-1970)|
|Chopwell, St. John||EP/Cho 4/29/1||Plot numbers in part of graveyard|
|Cockfield Cemetery||CP/Coc 63||Plot numbers (starting 1883)|
|Cockfield Cemetery||M78/41||Plot numbers and initials; plan integral to register (1979-1988)|
|Craghead, St. Thomas||EP/Cra 1/19||Rough sketch and scribbled notes|
|Dalton-le-Dale, Holy Trinity (Murton)||EP/DD.HT 4/99||War graves only|
|Deaf Hill Cemetery||CP/TF 7/2-3||Burial numbers in sections C, D and E; relate to registers (1936-2020)|
|Durham, St. Bede RC Cemetery, Redhills||RC/Du.SG 3/4-5||Plot numbers; plan relates to Durham, St. Godric, death registers (c.1866-1903)|
|Durham, St. Giles||EP/Du.SG 122||Plot numbers 801-967 in new burial ground (c. 1884-1888)|
|Durham, St. Giles||EP/Du.SG 355||Sketch with around 20 names and plot numbers; plan relates to burial register (1927-1970)|
|Durham, St. Giles||EP/Du.SG 406/2||Plan of graves in 1927 churchyard extension, with surnames (1927-1970)|
|East Rainton, St. Cuthbert||EP/ER 175-180||Names (1925-1972)|
|Evenwood Cemetery||BB/EV 15/3||Proposed layout of numbered plots, possibly as per registers (1871-1998)|
|Frosterley, St. Michael||EFr 4/40/1-2||Names & locations in churchyard extension (1938-2008)|
|Gainford, St. Osmund RC||RC/Gai 3/10||Only 6 names (c.1900)|
|Hamsterley, St. James||Ep/Ham 167||Only 12 names (on last page of volume) (1966-1970)|
|Hett Cemetery||CP/SBr 20/1-2||Names (1905-2000)|
|Heworth, St. Mary||EP/Hew 136-9||Names and plot numbers|
|High Spen, St. Patrick (all gravestones removed)||EP/HS 2/12||Plot numbers; plan relates to burial register (c. 1909-1965)|
|Houghton-le-Spring, St. Michael and All Angels, Hillside ('Old') Cemetery||EP/Ho 549||Names and plot numbers in NW corner of cemetery (c.1890s)|
|Hutton Henry (Station Town) Cemetery||CP/HH 25/1-2||Grave co-ordinates relating to burial register|
|Kimblesworth St. Philip and St. James||EP/Ki 4/33||Names; plan relates to burial registers (c.1923-1980)|
|Marley Hill, St. Cuthbert||EP/Ma 4/33/1||Names on grave plots to west of church building (c.1900-1960)|
|Marley Hill, St. Cuthbert||EP/Ma 4/33/2||Names in Garden of Remembrance|
|Middleton St.George||EP/Mi.SG 109/1||Sketch of one section, with names, in back of register (1949-1993)|
|Monk Hesleden Cemetery||CP/MH 83 M78/50||Plot numbers and some names; plan relates to burial register (1887-1932)|
|New Seaham, Christ Church||EP/NS 43/14||Names and plot numbers|
|Norton, St. Mary||EP/Nor 4/126-130||Names (1902-1915)|
|Pittington Hallgarth Cemetery||CP/Pi 160||Names and plot numbers for first, western, part of cemetery|
|Romaldkirk Cemetery||EP/Rom 4/160-161||Names (and plot numbers on one); plan relates to registers (starting 1890)|
|Ryhope, St. Paul||EP/Ry 77-79||Names (and plot numbers)|
|Sadberge, St. Andrew||EP/Sad Acc:9797||Monumental inscription surveys|
|Seaham, St. Mary||EP/Sea 29||Names|
|Sherburn Cemetery||M78/49||Plot numbers (1960s)|
|Startforth, Holy Trinity||EP/Star 4/86-87||Names (20th century?)|
|Stockton Friends’ Burial Ground||SF/Sto/PM 8/3||Plot numbers and lists of names (1818-1918)|
|Sunderland and Bishopwearmouth, Friends’ Burial Ground, Nile Street||SF/Su 115/5/3||Names; plan integral to register (1822-1856)|
|Sunnybrow, St. John||ND/WV 2/1-2||Plot co-ordinates; plans of areas A-D relate to numbers in burial register (1917-c.1960)|
|Whickham, St. Mary||EP/Whm 400-402||Names in plot B, and names and plot numbers in plots 1 and 2; plan relates to grave registers (1894-1992)|
|Whitburn, St. Mary||EP/Whit 40 M43/582||Names and plot numbers; plan integral to register (1798-1812)|
|Willington, Our Lady and St. Thomas RC||RC/Wil 1/5 M5/103||Numbers; plan integral to register (1881-1896)|
|Winlaton, St. Paul||EP/Win 4/120-121||Names and plot numbers; plan relates to grave registers (1879-1979)|
|Winterton Hospital Cemetery (chapel of St. Luke)||H/Wi 528||Initials, plot numbers and dates. Public access to the burial register is restricted|
|Woodland Cemetery||CP/Wo 10,11 M78/49||Names and plot numbers but no corresponding registers (1885-1960)|
There are other graveyard plans listed in our catalogues which do not include information that is useful for identifying graves, or which are related to surveys of monumental inscriptions (dealt with separately, see above). These include: Bearpark; Bishopwearmouth; Brignall (new); Castle Eden; Cockfield cemetery; Cockfield, St. Mary; Darlington, St. Cuthbert; Dipton; Durham, St. Margaret; Escomb, St. John; Fatfield; Gainford, St. Mary; Greatham; Hutton Magna; Long Newton; Pelton, Holy Trinity; Rokeby; Shadforth Cemetery; Thornley [Kelloe], St. Bartholomew; Trimdon Grange Cemetery; West Rainton, St. Mary; Wheatley Hill, All Saints; Winlaton.
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