Conservation and Management: Caring for Historic Graveyards and Gravestones
The following sections outline the key issues to consider when undertaking conservation and maintenance work within historic graveyards. The main source book on this subject is Historic Scotland's Practitioners' Guide to the Conservation of Historic Graveyards.
Click here for links to resources and downloads for gravestone and graveyard recording.
Prepare appropriate documentation for the graveyard. This includes making a record of each graveyard feature, monument or memorial, preparing conservation and management plans, and identifying any gravestones at risk. Several examples of completed conservation plans are available online. Background reading for preparing conservation plans can be found in Historic Scotland's free booklet Conservation Plans and The Guidelines for Cemetery Conservation prepared by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).
Points to consider include:
- All survey and recording work, including recording of inscriptions, should be carried out using appropriate methodologies (go to recording graveyards and gravestones).
- Within a graveyard, identify all the 'important' features; including gravemarkers, buildings, gates, enclosures, and flora and fauna that contribute to the significance of the graveyard. An Introduction to Graveyard Recording (get download) contains a summary of the range of built features that may be found in graveyards. Many features - or indeed an entire site - may be classified as bearing special interest and protected by law. If your graveyard is listed or scheduled, for example, this will determine the type of conservation work that you can complete and the advice and permissions needed. For more information about working in a listed or scheduled graveyard see Historic Scotland's free guidance leaflet (get download [40K]). To find out if your graveyard is listed or scheduled consult Historic Scotland's Listed Buildings of Scotland and Scheduled Ancient Monuments lists on PASTMAP and contact your local authority planning department.
- Resources for assessing the historical importance of graveyards include Researching Your Graveyard booklet (get download [2MB]), The Guidelines for Cemetery Conservation prepared by the National Trust of Australia (NSW), PASTMAP and the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS).
- The next stage is to describe an appropriate conservation approach for each important feature. This forms the conservation plan for the site.
- The management plan should identify the priorities for repair in the graveyard.
- As far as possible, gravestones should be preserved in their original setting.
- Special consideration should be given to any abandoned or ruinous structures (get download [35K]).
- Ensure that all necessary consents, i.e. listed building consent or scheduled monument consent, are obtained before starting work (get download [40K]).
Page last updated August 2006