Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Perlican Thinks About Cemetery Restoration

As we come up to next week's Cemetery Workshop (Dec. 4th, 1-5pm), I am going to post about a cemetery visit I recently had that really made me think about best practices for cemetery restoration work. Yesterday I traveled to New Perlican to have a visit with three members of the town's Heritage Society.  There is a cemetery in their community that has been neglected for a very long time. The residents have been keeping an eye on it, but they would like to do some conservation and restoration work in the near future. The cemetery is likely from the early-to-mid-1800s and as far as this group knows, there is no living resident who can remember a church once being up on that hill. All of the people who would have seen it in their youth have now passed away. The cemetery itself is very interesting. There are 8-10 headstones (some broken, others still standing) that clearly show where there are graves. It is thought that there are many more headstones that have fallen and been buried by layers of moss. On other parts of this large hill, there are clear examples of stone makers which suggest grave locations. These are scattered over a large area, but it is quite easy to pick them out. They look different than natural rocks-- they were buried in an intentional way with portions of the rock rising above the ground, much like headstones. Eileen, Max and Lorraine gave me a tour of this space and explained some of their restoration plans. They have some hurdles ahead, but with the dedication they have, there will surely be some successes.

Lorraine, Eileen, and Max showing me the St. Mark's Cemetery.

Buried and broken headstone in the cemetery. Date of stone unknown.

Two rocks thought to show the 'head' and 'foot' of a grave.
Some of the questions that came up included: how should headstones be fixed and protected without causing more damage? How can we tell if there is a grave if the headstone is now gone? How can we record what is still here? It is great that the New Perlican heritage group is asking such questions. They understand how important it is to document and protect what we have from the past, while we still have it. Overall, it was a fantastic visit and I hope to provide them support in the spring and summer as they embark on this restoration journey.

A final photo before signing off: here is a broken headstone that is now under the careful watch of the this New Perlican Heritage Society. This was pulled from the local garden of Percy Critch. It is thought to be a headstone from 1758 for a woman named Jane London-- a fascinating find to say the least!

-Lisa

1 comment:

SalmonCoveSteve said...

This is fantastic. There is an old cemetary across the road from my house which is also in dire need of some TLC.

Also, it's too bad the workshop is during a workday. If it were on the weekend, I'd be delighted to attend.