A Unique Method For Cleaning
Certainly there are a number of web pages on the
internet about techniques for cleaning headstones, but
this idea will be unique among them because it is
completely natural, non-destructive, and based on many
field observations in Newfoundland cemeteries.
The photo at the right shows a close-up picture of the
number "68" after it had been partially cleaned by the
snail appearing at the bottom. Snails were observed
consuming everything that grows on a stone: lichens,
mold, fungus, and algae.
A stone was found in St. John's which had been placed
face-down on some 2x4's after it had broken in half.
Being only a few inches above the ground on the 2x4's
created a high moisture environment on the faced of the
stone. The moisture softened the lichens and attracted a
large number of snails for a feast. The face of the
stone was almost pure white again! Comparison of the
stone on the ground with the stub which was still
standing showed a tremendous change.
Although not tested, here is a unique cleaning method
which should be excellent for a stone heavily covered in
lichens: Regardless of whether the stone is standing or
has fallen over, build a small tent over it with wood
and polyethylene to create a miniature greenhouse. Go
around to the other stones in the cemetery and collect a
bucket full of snails. Put them inside the tent and seal
the exits to prevent them from escaping. Use a fine mesh
wire or fabric to provide some ventilation.
The dense lichens on the stone in the following picture
cover the details of the date and make "1843" look like
"1813". Perhaps a few hundred snails could clean it in
just a few weeks.
Spring might be the best time of the year to do this so
that hot summer temperatures do not cause the tent to
overheat. Be the first one to try this method and report
your results here!