Considerations for Repair and Treatment Very little research has been conducted on the long-term success of repairs made to wooden markers and other cemetery artifacts. For this reason, any repairs will need regular inspection and maintenance to monitor conditions for signs of problems or failures. Additionally, prior to conducting repairs the following issues need to be considered: • Documentation. • Long-term planning and budgeting. • Assessment of soil conditions and microclimates. Repairing Elements with In-Kind Materials The long-term success of repairing cemetery artifacts by removing the decayed, below-ground portion and attaching a new wooden base has not been documented through any scientific study, and the failure rate for this type of repair is not known. Nor has there been any scientific assessment of the success of borate rods within a cemetery application; however, the known benefits of borate rods indicate considerable potential in historic preservation efforts in cemeteries. Repairing with Alternative Materials In many cases, the portion of the artifact that is in contact with the ground has been completely destroyed by decay or insects, and repairing the artifact with the same materials simply is not a feasible solution. While this approach is not the preferred method when attempting to adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, it may be worthwhile to consider alternatives for objects that simply cannot be repaired with in-kind material. Consider a marker in Beaufort, North Carolina, where the below-grade portion of the marker had deteriorated. In order to keep the grave marker on display, an alternative base was built utilizing copper tubes (Fig. 16). The unfortunate consequence of this repair was that screws were placed on the front face of the marker; they are easily visible and may have contributed to a check that runs along the face (Fig. 17). If such a repair is necessary, fasteners should be placed judiciously so as to have the least visual and physical impact on the artifact. Simply installing the screw from the other side would have kept the face of the marker in more pristine condition. Despite these drawbacks, however, the marker remains on display and is somewhat protected from further degradation because it is no longer in contact with the ground.
Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies