Did You Know?
Until the middle of the 1800s, the inscription on a headstone was placed facing away from the plot (at the head), due to superstitions about standing on the grave. Some time after the mid-1800s the headstones were placed with the inscription facing the foot of the plot.
To better see the inscription on an historic stone, hold a long mirror so that it reflects sunlight across the face of the headstone. This will throw the inscription, though eroded by time and weather, into high contrast. Have someone take a picture -- it will be clearer and better for the headstone than rubbing!
Historic family plots are usually in the corners of fields, because farmers couldn't plow into the corners.
Did you know that it's easier to read the inscription on an old gravestone with a mirror? Hold the mirror at an angle to the stone, so that sunlight is cast across it. Whether the lettering is raised or engraved, light angled from the side will heighten the contrast and allow you to read even the faintest epitaph. But please: no rubbing!
If you are interested in historic reenactments, contact:
Col. Dr. Larry A Maxwell (Pastor of the Oldest Baptist Church in Patterson, NY)
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