Dugan and Anthony
Documentation A very essential component to any condition assessment is good documentation. At a minimum, a condition assessment should record the following:
• A description of the marker, including the inscription (if legible), and the general shape and dimensions. • The location of the marker relative to other artifacts such as stone markers with clear inscriptions. • Some description of the condition of the artifact that includes any identified decay, loose connections or failures, insect damage, excessive vegetation, mechanical damage, etc. • A brief description of the soil and drainage conditions.
Artifacts should not be removed from the ground, as removal may damage the in-ground portion and make artifacts more susceptible to damage, theft, leaning, and collapse. It is not necessary to remove artifacts to identify potential problems. When to Call an Expert Expert advice should be sought for moisture problems if the source of moisture cannot be identified or mitigated, for insect infestation, and for advanced decay that has damaged or destroyed elements. Experts, through the use of advanced assessment methods, can help to define the scope of the damage and provide guidance on appropriate levels of intervention. State Historic Preservation Offices and online resources are good places to start when looking for a wood expert with cultural resource expertise. Corrective Measures Numerous reference works on the weathering and maintenance of stone and metal artifacts exist to aid cemetery stewards.4 However, wooden artifacts present a particularly dire problem. Not only do they deteriorate more rapidly than stone or metal artifacts, but there is also very little information available to facilitate informed treatment decisions. The two most cost-effective measures for extending the life of wooden cemetery artifacts are controlling water and vegetation. Clearing organic debris and vegetation from around the bases of wooden markers, enclosures, and other artifacts and minimizing the artifacts’ exposure to
Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies