I somehow missed this as it shows last week, but I have been checking almost daily on BillionGraves – Damaged Gravestones – BillionGraves February 18, 2020: https://blog.billiongraves.com/damaged-gravestones/. Would be over 2,800 words so cut out a lot to keep it in the 500 – 600 word range. Definitely worth reading; do in small chunks if you need to.
Damaged gravestones mean lost history. In many cases, the damaged gravestones contain not only personal family history but also community and cultural information.
Damaged Gravestones: Cracking
Headstones can shift due to the natural movement of the soil causing them to crack or break. Large cracks and breaks can obscure inscriptions and engraved markings.
Here’s how to link gravestone photos with the BillionGraves App:
Just click on the chain icon in the corner of your screen between each photo that you would like to link.
You can use this linking feature for headstones that have information on both sides or for obelisks that have data on four sides. You can also use it to link a large gravestone with a family surname on it to nearby smaller gravestones with the family member’s first names on them.
Damaged Gravestones: Grass Overgrowth
As you walk through an older cemetery and see plots that look like they are reserved for future new gravesites, you may actually be looking at plots that have already been taken. It just may be that grass and weeds have completely overgrown the grave markers.
Damaged Gravestones: Ivy and Other Plants
If you’ve ever seen a dandelion or a blade of grass poking up through a cement driveway or causing a sidewalk to heave then you understand the power of tiny plant roots.
Damaged Gravestones: Dirt-Covered
Flat grave markers are particularly susceptible to damage from dirt, soil, and mud. Dirt that penetrates into the pores of the stone can cause a dingy appearance. It can also lead to staining. For example, minerals in the soil, such as iron, can leach into the headstone and cause rust-colored stains.
Damaged Gravestones: Algae, Moss, and Lichen
Algae, fungi, and lichen may be green, gray, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, or brown. These organisms can damage headstones by trapping moisture on the stone and beneath the surface of the stone.
Damaged Gravestones: Darkening
Acid rain, pollution, animal droppings, and tree sap can all cause gravestones to darken.
Damaged Gravestones: Mold
Damaged Gravestones: Weathering
Damaged Gravestones: Sinking
Damaged Gravestones: Rust
Metal gravestones like this one from Kazakstan are prone to rust.
Damaged Gravestones: Flaking
Damaged Gravestones: Vandalism
Damaged Gravestones: Cemetery Regulations
The gravestones in this pile were removed from gravesites in Erfurt, Germany. Why? Simply because it was someone else’s turn to use the plot of land.
Under German law, families may lease gravesites for 15 to 30 years at a cost of up to $5,000. The full 30 years is required for deceased adults, the amount of time it will usually take for the body to decay. Youth and children who have passed away may occupy the rented sites for less time.
Germany is not the only nation that reuses gravestones for other purposes.
It was only in 2013 that the municipality of Lviv in Ukraine announced its decision to stop using Jewish headstones as paving materials for roads and sidewalks.
The headstones in the photo above are from a cemetery in Copenhagen, Denmark and they will be ground up for road resurfacing.
May you be blessed as you help others find their ancestors!
Cathy Wallace and The BillionGraves Team
If we have unintentionally missed an attribution of any photo used in any of our content please contact us for proper attribution via Support@BillionGraves.com.
Previous Tombstone Tuesdays posts: https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/tag/Tombstone-tuesday/