THE SHOCKING truth about child mortality in the 19th century has been revealed by volunteers in Oakworth.

Members of the Dockroyd Graveyard Restoration Project uncovered details of families buried in the cemetery, during their clean-up work.

Andrew Heaton, the new owner of the site, said it was sobering to be reminded of the issue of historic child mortality.

He said: “As the overgrown ivy is removed from the gravestones the sheer frequency of families losing children in their infancy has been discovered.

“One such family is that of Hannah and Jesse Shackleton who lost seven children –none of whom lived into adulthood.

“Sons John William, aged 14, Wright, aged four weeks, and Noah, aged 19; also daughters Syble, aged 11 months and Martha Alice, aged 19; all perished in addition to two unnamed children who died in infancy.”

The uncovering of the Shackletons’ gravestone Mr Heaton to search the statistics in the burial records.

He found that there were 449 children buried at the site who died under the age of five, as well as 123 unnamed infants who were either stillborn or died before they were named.

Mr Aidan added: “With a total of 572 this is a staggering 23% of the occupants of the graveyard.”

Visit to find out how to get involved with the project.