1. Do no harm.
The first and most important step
is to do no harm. If at any point
you are concerned about
damaging a headstone or other
element of the cemetery, consult
a preservation professional. A
little caution now can save a lot of
2. Raise the stone.
Before a headstone can be re-set, it must be fully removed. After securing the
headstone to a pulley system, be sure to raise it carefully and evenly in order to put as
little stress on the stone as possible. Once the stone is removed, it can be laid flat on
the ground nearby.
3. Set your alignment.
The easiest way to ensure your stones are re-set in line with one another is to create
a system of guide strings running the length of the existing row.
4. Re-dig the
Using a shovel, widen
and deepen the existing
hole for each headstone.
Be sure that all edges and
walls of the hole are as
straight as possible.
5. Partially fill
Once your hole is
prepared, partially fill the
bottom with gravel in order
to help level the base and
solidify the stone’s position
in the hole.
6. Replace the stone.
Carefully raise the stone and re-set it in the new hole being careful to use your guide
strings to keep it in line with the other stones. Once the stone is placed, be sure to
make sure it is set flat in the hole (the top of both sides are even) by placing a level
across the top of the stone.
7. Tamp down
Once the stone is in place
and aligned, continue filling
the hole with loose gravel
and dirt. As the hole
continues to fill, use a two-
by-four to tamp down the
gravel surrounding the stone.
8. Finish the job.
Once your stone is aligned, level, and in plumb, fill the remainder of your hole, making
sure to tamp down the loose gravel and dirt with your two-by-four.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s
historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same
in their own communities.
For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org.
Photos 2, 5, 6, 9 courtesy: A. J. Sisco
Photos 1, 3, 4, 7 courtesty: Audrey Hall