Rather than rectifying a fault, inappropriate repairs can cause further problems. For guidance see Historic Scotland's Practitioners' Guide to the Conservation of Historic Graveyards, The Guidelines for Cemetery Conservation prepared by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and information produced by the National Trust For New South Wales, Woodlawn Cemetery (Canada) and Chicora Foundation (USA).
- If your gravestone has statutory protection (get download [40K]), this will affect what you can do to the stone.
- Stones must be lifted only under specialist supervision (get download [1.4MB]). Friable stones are liable to break-up if lifting is attempted.
- For repairs to stone, use lime mortar. Hard cement mortars should be avoided.
- Fractured gravestones should be repaired using non-ferrous dowels of suitable length and either polyester resin (for clean breaks) or lime mortar (for wider joints).
- Where the inscription has been lost from a stone, re-cutting should not be undertaken. A preferred alternative is to position a new plaque, with the text reproduced, in the ground at the front of the original tombstone. For more information on the issues involved in caring for inscriptions see Sections 7.4 and 7.5 in The Guidelines for Cemetery Conservation prepared by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).
Following the advice below will ensure that graveyard maintenance has a positive effect on the conservation of the memorials and the site itself. For further guidance see Historic Scotland's free leaflet Maintaining a Historic Graveyard (get download [41K]), advice produced by Chicora Foundation (USA).
- Do not cut back turf from the bases of gravestones. Where turf has been cut back previously, if practicable, carefully re-turf exposed soil.
- Where a gravestone that has been concealed below grass is accidentally uncovered, it should be recorded, assessed and then re-turfed to prevent further deterioration.
- Do not use ride-on mowers for grass cutting in close proximity to memorials, including flat stones, due to the risk of damage. Use hand-held gardening tools near any historic memorials, taking care not to make contact with stonework.
- Paths are part of the original design and the alignment of existing paths should be retained.
Page last updated August 2006