A few weeks ago when we were working on the Oliveros Papy vault at the back of the cemetery, we kept finding our work impeded by sharp pieces of iron that stuck out of the ground behind the vault. We thought they were probably parts of a metal grave enclosure that had probably been removed from its grave because it was in poor condition and stashed behind the vault to await – well, something or another.
Since we are getting ready to install a storage shed behind the vault to hold our preservation supplies and other miscellaneous “stuff,” we decided that it was time to excavate. Nick McAuliffe, Matt Armstrong and Elizabeth Gessner appeared at Tolomato bright and early today and began to dig.
The pieces of metal seemed to go on forever. Some of them were separate, but most of them were part of a larger piece that we realized was a fence section. It was close to the surface, only some 4-6 inches deep, and extended for about 5 or 6 feet in length and was about 3 feet wide.
Digging diligently and snipping off the roots that were holding it down, we were finally able to lift it – and we saw a lovely piece of iron fencing that had major damage at one end, probably from a falling tree or branch that had hit it hard enough to curve the wrought iron.
What’s more, we were even able to identify the piece. It was the west side of the grave enclosure for two of the headstones that we cleaned earlier this spring.
For the time being, we have put it aside under a tarp, and will consider whether to attempt to conserve it and reinstall it. But it is actually in better condition than the piece that was left standing. We don’t know how long it was buried. We found a piece of Styrofoam under it, so obviously it’s got to be fairly recent, or at least after the invention of Styrofoam!