All of Church of England's graveyards to be photographed and digitised to create national database

Ben Chapman reports on the project that will make it easier to find out more about our ancestors and where they are buried

Surveyors are spending seven years mapping, photographing and digitising the Church of England's 16,000 graveyards so people can easily find the resting place of their ancestors online.

Teams of surveyors with five cameras on their back have been walking past the graves in the Church of England-owned graveyards, mapping millions of headstones.

The project started in Cumbria on Friday and also aims to digitise church records to create a vast archive of history available to the public.

By the time the system is up and running anyone will be able to access a birds-eye map of every graveyard and receive information about each person buried there.

If you know the person you're looking for you will also be able to search by name and be pointed to the right graveyard anywhere in England.

Family historian William Bundred welcomed the move to make history more accessible but said the technology had its limits.

He said: "It depends on what you want to get out of it, whether you want to be a number-crunching genealogist or you want to look at the lives and the places that your ancestors lived in, which I think is part of the fun."

The project hopes to be completed in seven years.