Presentation on theme: "Many historic cemeteries have been neglected over many years. Physical weathering has seen weeds and trees growing out of control, vandalism, headstone."— Presentation transcript:
Many historic cemeteries have been neglected over many years. Physical weathering has seen weeds and trees growing out of control, vandalism, headstone decay and inscriptions gradually wearing away. Changing attitudes to memorials considered appropriate, changing burial practices, families moving away from the districts where ancestors are buried have all contributed to neglect. City, town and borough authorities, and churchyard trustees have found themselves bearing the costs of having to look after cemeteries, plots and headstones.
Over the years various solutions have been carried out by local authorities. The headstones from the old Kaitangata Cemetery have been collected up into one small area and have been reset in concrete. Many stones have been cut below the inscription and shortened before being set in concrete. In Whangarei, the Kioreroa Cemetery headstones have been removed and dumped, the cemetery cleared and land sold. See streamed video Historic cemeteries falling into a state of neglect: This is a Campbell Live News item.Historic cemeteries falling into a state of neglect:
Many communities are finding historical value in their cemeteries and are keen to promote local heritage and past events to interested visitors. In Roxburgh the community recently erected an interpretative panel. Key personnel buried in the cemetery are easily located by visitors. Many communities are installing such panels as part of heritage trails linking individuals to events eg Fortrose Cemetery Southland.
Befo re resto rati on After restorat ion This headstone in Dunedins Southern cemetery has probably been damaged by vandalism at some time in the past. Water soaking into the surface of the stone and being retained by the porous limestone has allowed moss to build up on both the headstone and on surface of the plinth. These before and after photos show that the headstone has had the moss covering cleaned off completely. The headstone had a chip broken off in the lower corner, which has been repaired by use of a plaster type fill.
Facsimilie headstone Above: Yuet Sheer Longs headstone has been cleaned and repaired with a plaster type fill and reattached to the base. This headstone had been chipped and the chip lost. A piece has needed to be crafted and inserted into the lower left corner to stabilise the monument. at left a restoration and at right a facsimilie. Right: Mun Goons headstone had been so badly damaged that a completely new facsimilie headstone had to be crafted.
Marble is prone to weathering, cracking and breaking. It is not a strong stone. This repair has been glued and the stele strengthened with a steel backing plate.
Reassembling a disassembled monument requires the skills of a monumental mason. In the photo above stainless steel pins are inserted into holes in the plinth with epoxy resin glue. The monument is lifted with a small crane and carefully maneuvered into place. There are matching holes in the base of the monument. The headstone needs to be aligned carefully. It is very heavy. The headstone is lowered over the pins. One mans operates the crane. The other keeps checking that the matching holes in the headstone drop over the pins. When it settles correctly the job is finished.
The first step in this process is to fill the letters with a yellow base paint and leave until it becomes tacky to touch. The gold leaf comes in the small box and is packaged between sheets of tissue paper. When the base paint is tacky, gold leaf is picked up from between tissue sheets with a very full soft bristle brush. The gold leaf is very fine and easily blown away. Granite lettering can sometimes become very hard to read. To improve this, gold and silver leaf is often applied. Here a skilled monumental mason shows how this is done.
Once the work is finished, the excess leaf is rubbed away leaving a clean edge to the lettering, which should last for a number of years. The monumental mason requires a day with no wind to do this. Once the brush is loaded with gold leaf it is dabbed into the tacky yellow lettering and sticks.
Only the K remains on this example. The remainder of the word can be seen with the letters cut out of the marble and holes drilled into the marble. Lead is a soft metal and can be pressed into the incised letter shapes. It forms small pegs in the holes which hold the letters in place. This inscription shows the marble surfaces have worn (fretting). Some of the lead lettering had come loose and fallen from the stone. Over time, the calcium carbonate reacts with carbon dioxide in the air or in rainwater to form carbonic acid. Pegs The surface marble is slowly worn down leaving the lead proud of the surface stone. Water gets in behind the lead. Acidic water gradually wears away the marble behind the letters and pegs and the letters gradually come loose. New FlushOld Proud
Some of the fretting or corrosion occurring on the surface of the marble can be seen in this photo. The monumental mason has inserted the new lead into the missing letters. Because the surface of the stone is uneven he needs to chisel around the edges of the individual letters to straighten the edges. On new stone this would be sanded to a smooth finish.
Inscription plaques regularly come adrift of the headstone and need reaffixing from time to time. The monumental mason has inserted the existing plaque into the limestone headstone.
As many descendents investigate their families past-stories, they are also returning to add information about who is buried in family plots where such information has been lost or has not existed. My gt grandparents and my gt gt grandfather are buried in an unmarked plot. I would love to get some sort of plaque on this grave. In 2008 it will be 150 years since they arrived in Dunedin on the Strathfieldsaye. They are the Hall family.
In April 2005 a new obelisk memorial was erected to commemorate one of Dunedins foremost early architects. Since 1902 Robert Lawson had lain in the plot pictured below the Dunedins Northern Cemetery without a headstone. The memorial to the right commemorates Lawsons young daughter. The Historic Cemeteries Conservation Trust of New Zealand coordinated the fundraising for the monument and was helped to a significant degree by the Association of New Zealand Stone Masons. The next slide shows how the monument, which weighed many tons, was assembled piece by piece with the help of a large crane.
An important aspect of care is weed control in the cemetery. Volunteers often help with cleaning up dead leaves, branches, overgrown hedges and vigorous growth.
A phone caller asks about the condition of this family grave, which they have been unable to visit but would like to keep maintained. Look closely at the photos. What would you recommend be done with this memorial? Write a report for the family with your advice and recommendations.
My Grandfathers grave is in need of restoration. William Salmond was an important figure in the early days of the Presbyterian Church and the University of Otago. I would value assistance in determining how I should proceed in commissioning the restoration of the grave, including leveling, and re-erection of the column. I understand that your trust has access to expertise in these matters and I would appreciate advice on procedure. I would also be interested in being directed to contractors who might quote for carrying out the work. Look closely at the photos. What would you recommend be done with this memorial? Write a report for the family with your advice and recommendations.
We are very willing to put money into the conservation of our family grave and am very grateful that you will include the work in your next batch of work at the cemetery. A phone caller asks about the condition of this family grave. Look closely at the photo. What would you recommend be done with this memorial? Write a report for the family with your advice and recommendations.
Re my Great Grandfather's grave. My daughter was in Dunedin recently and went to see the grave of my Great grandfather, his wife and three daughters. She found the site a little unkempt and the headstone unreadable. Could you guide me to a reasonable and reliable firm to get the stone cleaned and the lettering made reasonably able to be read Look closely at the photo. What would you recommend be done with this memorial? Write a report for the family with your advice and recommendations.
I have had a look at the grave and memorial and was impressed by its elegance. The cast iron fence has missing pieces, probably cleaned up over the years as they were broken, and is showing rust through the paint. We do not recommend painting cast iron fences for this very reason – once painted they need constant maintenance painting. It is better to leave them and let them rust naturally. The rust is not causing any deterioration. The monument is in good condition. The black staining on the white marble is part of the aging process, and while it could perhaps be beached, we do not recommend this. The cemetery has its own ambience and super-clean memorials look out of place and out of time, and the process causes permanent damage to the stone. We would recommend that you do nothing to this grave-site. This was the advice given to the family by experts. Were your recommendations similar or different?
This was the advice given to the family by experts. Were your recommendations similar or different? I have had a look at the Salmond grave and also commissioned a quote from one of our reliable monumental masons who we use for our restoration work. He has provided a reasonable quote to straighten the base, recut the base of the urn, pin and reset the spire and re-erect all pieces with stainless steel pins between the blocks. The descendants wish to re-erect the stones for the Salmond grave. However there is a tree growing on the grave and I am reluctant to start the work without this tree being removed. Would you arrange for its removal or would you rather a working party do it? Also there is a request made of the cemetery authorities to remove the tree. Note: A portion of the tree remains. Why?
This was the advice given to the family by experts. Were your recommendations similar or different? I have had a look at the White grave. It will be quite simple to fix back in place and have it properly pinned to the base. If you were to send a cheque to cover the cost we would include the work in the next batch of work we are doing. The White gravestone is now upright. I have given it a light clean with fresh water bit it remains stained because of lying flat on the ground for so long. This staining may disappear with time, and we recommend that nothing further be done. This second communication was sent when the work was completed.
This was the advice given to the family by experts. Were your recommendations similar or different? I visited your family grave and found it in relatively good condition. I sprayed the stone with non-bleach moss killer and gently scrubbed it clean. It is harder to read this particular stone because the engraving is not heavily incised. The only way, if you want it to be more easily read, would have to be have it re-cut by a qualified monumental mason. I do wonder if this is really necessary – it is readable as it is