Spade & the Grave

death and burial through an archaeological lens

Gravestone Conservation 2019: Week 4

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If you’ve been following my work for a little while you’ll know that I like to chronicle my fieldwork experiences when possible! I’m just here assuming that everyone is enjoying these, because there are 4 more weeks to go!

I can’t believe that it has already been 4 weeks, and that this experience is already halfway finished! I’m going to take what I’ve learned at the cemetery with me as I continue my burial ground research and work in the future.

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Lets start with a PSA about the deer! We found a lot of corn in the cemetery last week from visitors who wanted to feed the deer, and potentially other wildlife in the cemetery. While we appreciate your enthusiasm, please don’t feed the deer! They can’t actually digest corn and it can damage their digestive track. It’s dangerous, and we want to keep them healthy!

Now, on to the graves! On Monday it poured in the afternoon so Brienna and I spent part of the day learning about the operations of the crematory. It was a really interesting afternoon, and I definitely learned a lot about how long it takes to cremate a body, as well as all of the steps to processing the deceased’s remains once the cremation process is complete. I obviously don’t have any photos from this afternoon, but it was amazing, and I’m so happy to have these opportunities.

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Raising the Hugessen stone (left to right: me, Meagan, Brienna, & Joey)

This blog post is taking three hours to write because I have a movie on in the background and keep pausing it to write a few lines. This might not be the best way to productively write, but here we are! I’m not doing to fully describe it all here again, but this week we finished the resetting of the Hugessen monument, and wrote a really long blog post about the entire process over on the Woodland Cemetery website (read it HERE). I’m so excited that the stone is up. It took five of us to raise the stone (4 to raise it, and 1 to take photos!), and we used limestone mortar in the key to hold the stone in place. What is really interesting is that the mother of the deceased, Fanny Catherine, who is named on the stone, is the favourite niece of Jane Austin! Read all about it in the Woodland blog post, it’s really fascinating!

It unfortunately rained for quite a lot of last week, so we ended up doing a lot of blogging, but I met a few frogs and marmots while we were outside take photos. One of the coolest things we did was uncover and reset two ‘coffin-ledgers’. For lack of a better term, because I cannot for the life of me think of what they are meant to be called! These two stones both marked childrens’ graves, but neither of them had dates or names on them. Hopefully we can find something out about these individuals and their families!

The stones were quite large, feature ringed crosses, and both almost completely underground, so we had to dig them both out completely, and wedge a strap underneath in order to maneuver the weight of them out of the ground. After pouring a ton of limestone screening into the pits and stamping it down to create a solid foundation, we put the gravestones back into place and surrounded them with additional limestone. These stones are located directly behind the crematory in Section R, if you’re interested in visiting these unique stones!

xxx20190614_122140This post is a little short compared to last week’s, and compared to the week to come considering how much was done today (Monday), that I can’t wait to tell you all about! Because of the rain days we didn’t get as much physical work done, but are pretty excited to start rolling out some blog posts we’ve prepared down the line. For now, I’ll leave you with this photo I took of myself with a self-timer.

In terms of my personal research, I am currently working to finish two papers for submission to journals at different points this summer, and just submitted an abstract to present a paper at the SHA conference in 2020, as well as a poster with my friend Sarah. Fingers crossed they both get accepted!! I am still working on edits for my upcoming book as well (no one forget about that!) and have some other projects and plans in the works…but more on those later.

As always, thank you for reading and following along with my work. I really have loved all the emails and comments I’ve been getting from you all! Until next week!

 

Author: Robyn Lacy

Archaeologist / Cultural Heritage Specialist / Illustrator.

One thought on “Gravestone Conservation 2019: Week 4

  1. Pingback: Canadian History Roundup – Week of June 16, 2019 | Unwritten Histories

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