Tombstone Shadow –

When tombstones become old and the engravings begin to wear away, it can become difficult to impossible to identify an ancestor’s resting place. During a hands-on workshop Saturday in the graveyard of Sion Presbyterian Cemetery in Winnsboro, Genealogist Jon Davis showed members of the Fairfield Genealogical Society how to decipher lettering on weathered stones, no matter how faded and worn.

Davis demonstrated techniques using a mirror to reflect the sun on to the face of the stone at an angle, causing shadows in the etchings. Davis explained that this method works best on flat vertical stones at about 11:30 a.m. In the above photo, he angles the mirror over a horizontal slab. If the light is too bright, he suggested having someone hold a towel vertically at the end of the stone to help control the shadows. Davis also demonstrated how to use rubbings to bring out lettering that is otherwise so faint it cannot be discerned.

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