Centuries-old gravestones to be restored in Fredericton’s Old Loyalist Burial Ground

The city of Fredericton is working with experts to carefully restore and preserve the gravestones that make up the Old Loyalist Burial Ground in the city’s centre. Weather, vandalism and time have caused some of the stones to fall, crumble and sink into the ground, most of their engravings illegible. Archaeologist and burial ground specialist Robyn Lacy has been contracted by the city to assess each stone and create a plan for how to delicately repair them. (Photo via: Laura Brown/CTV)

The City of Fredericton is working with experts to carefully restore and preserve the gravestones that make up the Old Loyalist Burial Ground in the city’s centre.

Weather, vandalism and time have caused some of the stones to fall, crumble and sink into the ground, making most of their engravings illegible.

Archaeologist and burial ground specialist Robyn Lacy has been contracted by the city to assess each stone and create a plan for how to delicately repair them.

"I’d say it’s very important," she said. "Gravestones are part of everyone’s family histories, they tell us a lot about where a community came from. You can learn a lot about individual families and people as a whole."

Graffiti was removed in early June using a safe product Lacy recommended.

Twelve stones will take priority as their stability poses a risk to the public’s safety. The city has set aside $50,000 annually to repair and monitor the stones.

"We’ve gathered the expertise locally within the community as much as possible, so we have a mason that we can readily ask questions to and just make sure that whatever we do complete is a well-informed decision," said Ashley Goggin, a project engineer with the city.

It’s work the city admits is overdue. In a release, Coun. Eric Megarity said the city "struggled in the past with how to best care for it because it’s not a straightforward process."

Lacy said it isn’t simple, especially because some of the gravestones are over 200 years old.

But she has identified several features of the burial ground that are special, including the border or curb of one gravemarker.

“That curbing is made of iron, and that’s really rare,” she said. “It has the maker’s plate on it of who made it, which I’m definitely going to be researching later…that’s a really, really unique one.”

An annual plan will be finalized and presented to city council in the fall.