Gravestone preservation training workshops are conducted nationally by Jonathan Appell. Various training and workshop options are available including public workshops and private training to fit your needs. 

Jamestown, Virginia - Historic Site - Collaborating with staff at Jamestown
The Knight's Tomb Ledger - One of the oldest gravestones in America

Jonesboro, Arkansas - Gravestone Preservation Workshop
In collaboration with the state of Arkansas

There are very few opportunities to gain knowledge and acquire training regarding gravestone and monument conservation. The workshops which are available may be located at a considerable distance away. This makes it cost prohibitive for most groups, and limits the attendance to one or maybe two members. Most workshops will overview a few basic technique, but may not include the specific answers needed to get started or effectively plan a preservation project in your town or cemetery.

I can come to your cemetery or graveyard and effectively equip, train and mobilize your staff or group of volunteers to perform basic preservation procedures. I will use your local burying ground, to demonstrate and perform treatments, for all of the most common gravestone and monument preservation dilemmas, including cleaning, resetting tilted stones and rejoining fractured tablet stones which are so common throughout many parts of America.

I encourage photographing, taping, or filming important steps and procedures to provide a reference for future training or review. More advanced skills and techniques can also be overviewed or instructed, if the need exists, and time allows.

In the process of training your local group we will actually be restoring your local cemetery. Each stone we fix will diminish the future number of gravestones or monuments remaining to be conserved.

If you are unable or not ready to actually begin the preservation procedures, we can survey the grounds and plan for your future preservation project. I also provide training to enable your local group to survey the markers and monuments and learn to perform a accurate individual stone assessment. This is of paramount importance due to the constant loss of inscription and degradation of many gravestones. A proper documentation form including a photograph will allow future generations to view a gravestone and understand its history even if the actual stone is destroyed.

Gravestone Preservation Workshop

Led by Jonathan Appell

The goal of this three day- long gravestone preservation workshop is educate attendants on the numerous aspects relating to gravestone, monument and historic stone preservation. The workshop will begin with a short walk and talk tour, through one of the older graveyards in the area. A group of gravestones and monuments, will then be selected to be cleaned, repaired and conserved during the course of the workshop.

Workshop Schedule

This outline will act as a general guideline for the content of the workshop.

Due to the variability found in every graveyard there are many unknown factors, which are impossible to predict.

This can complicate and alter the time required to perform any specific task.

Therefore, the exact time- table and schedule may be altered, but all of the

techniques and treatments will be conducted, or if not possible discussed and demonstrated  during the course of the entire workshop.


9:00 AM - 9:15 AM - Introductions, workshop overview, basic logistics

9:15 AM - 10:30 AM - Walking tour of the oldest area in cemetery.

Topics will include, Basic geology relating to gravestones, monuments, and historic masonry. Typical gravestone and monument styles and common problems associated with them will be discussed, including historic metal pinning, historic mortars, lawn mower issues, Stones will be selected as candidates for treatments. Questions and discussion is encouraged.

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM - Short break for attendants, cleaning materials are set up.

10:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Documentation and assessment
Photography and proper lighting
Employing a mirror to improve lighting

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
How to clean gravestones: including marble, sandstone, granite and all historic masonry.

The philosophy of cleaning gravestones will be discussed, and safe- cleaning techniques will be demonstrated on a stable gravestone, which will benefit from the cleaning treatment.

Attendants will perform cleaning of additional gravestones, which are deemed safe to be cleaned without doing harm.  The various kinds of staining will be discussed, comparing atmospheric and biological cleaning problems and solutions.

A biological cleaning solution will be employed for on biological growth such as lichens, molds, fungus, etc.

Stone cleaning poultice also discussed and demonstrated for difficult to clean details is carved stone and objects.

12:15 PM - 1:00 PM - Lunch
Afternoon treatment tools and materials are set up.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Raising, re-leveling and re-setting gravestones

How to repair fallen gravestones without inflicting further damage to the stone without any lifting equipment, provided they are not too massive is size.

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Repairing fractured gravestones and monuments
Surface preparation of mating surfaces, removing old repair adhesives which have failed. Problems with removing hard and Portland Cement based mortars. 

Stone epoxies, pros and cons and proper mixing and application

3:00 PM- 3:15 PM - Short break

3:15 PM - 4:30 PM
Setting & re-setting of multiple piece monuments often composed from marble.
To pin or not to pin, that is the question.
Raising and leveling of base stones. Leverage and setting bar styles, sizes and usage.
Joining monumental elements. Options for joining monumental elements, traditional materials and techniques vs modern setting materials and techniques. Application and use of monument setting compound, stone epoxy used in mating application, the need for spacers between stone elements, issues with plastic spacers, advantages of wedge lead.


9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Resetting tablet stone into slotted socket base
Including mixing and application of a historic
Pointing mortar, pointing, re-pointing and tooling
Mortar joints, protection  of mortar for curing

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Mortars, a historical overview on lime mortars
NHL mortars & Natural Cements
Problems with Portland cement on historic stone
Infilling, creating mortars, color matching and application

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Problems with fractures at ground level
Options for reinforcement of tablet stones
Creating a cast replacement socket base with wood forms or earth form

12:15 PM - 1:00 PM - Lunch
Afternoon treatment tools and materials are set up.

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Overview on lifting of heavy stones and other objects
Understanding the lifting tripod, including
Chain hoists, slings and basic rigging
Safety issues when working with heavy weights

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Rigging and resetting of a fallen multiple piece monument
Discussion on ferrous and non-ferrous metal pinning
Sometimes used historically to mate stone elements
How to use pads and softs to protect stone

3:00 PM- 3:10 PM - Short break

3:10 PM - 4:30 PM
Problems with repairing stones, which have been imbedded in concrete
Alternative techniques to work with large monolithic stones, and previously puddled stones.
Leverage with large setting bars
Re-leveling of large monuments without overhead lift


9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Removal of form from newly cast base on day 2
Mortar mixed and applied
Tablet reset into new base
Mortar joints tooled

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Problems associated with sealing of stone
Discussion on rising damp and the need for breathability
Stone consolidation overview
Consolidation of a marble gravestone

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Alternative cemetery monument re-setting techniques
Raising onto blocking without overhead left
Cleaning and preparation of mating surfaces
Lowering headstones off blocks without inflicting damage

12:15 PM - 1:00 PM - Lunch

1:00 PM- 4:00 PM
Group interactive working experience employing numerous skills learned throughout the workshop. Limitations and dangers of working with large and very heavy objects stressed. Tripod will be employed with focus on setup and safety. Students perform all tasks with supervision

4:00 PM- 4:30 PM
Review, questions and answers

Workshop Logistics:
Each attendant will receive a folder of printed materials. The workshop will be a hands on, interactive event. You are welcome to tape, photograph or video the workshop as desired. All tools and materials are provided.

Please dress for working outdoors as weather can be variable.
Bring gloves, wear sturdy shoes to work in. Sun and bug spray if desired.