Archaeologists working on the HS2 rail link are looking for volunteers to help digitise the burial records of 57,639 Londoners who lived in the city in the 18th and 19th century.

The information relates to St James’s Burial Ground near Euston station, where more than 31,000 burials were excavated as part of HS2’s archaeology work between 2018 and 2019.

The archaeologists now intend to compare their findings with information contained in the burial ground’s records, in a bid to discover more about the site and the lives of Londoners at a time when the city was at the heart of an expanding empire.

Among those whose remains were recovered at St James’s was Captain Matthew Flinders, famous for circumnavigating Australia, who died in 1814 aged 40 at his home at 14 London Street.

Robert Hartle, an archaeologist who worked on the excavation, said: “The people buried in St James’s burial ground include individuals from all walks of life; men, women and children, paupers and nobility, artists and soldiers, inventors and industrialists.

“But the archaeology is only the beginning. The large number of individuals at St James’s who are identifiable via surviving name plates gives us an unprecedented chance to unlock avenues for further research, to match the physical remains of people and their burials with the historical records of the lives they led.”

The aim now is to create a searchable, digital archive that can be used to assist further research.

HS2 seeks volunteers to decipher handwritten burial records, noting names, addresses and causes of death. They will not need any previous experience – though they may have to brush up on a few computer skills and do some problem solving. There is no minimum time commitment.

Hartle added: “The Stories of St James’s Burial Ground digitisation project is a unique opportunity to make a genuine contribution to our ongoing archaeological research and make connections that will shed new light on ordinary people, all too often forgotten to history.”