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We will continue our mission to protect, preserve and document gravestones in Ancient Cemetery in collaboration with the Town of Yarmouth and other like-minded community organizations. These are some of the activities we undertake to fulfill our mission.

Yarmouth Cemeteries Map Project,



The Friends of Ancient Cemetery Map Project began in 2021 when volunteers set out to gather all existing cemetery maps of the Town’s seven cemeteries.  More than 200 individual maps have been collected from scattered locations in various Town departments.  Information about each map is entered into a spreadsheet inventory that includes the cemetery name, date (if known), map size, condition, other available identifying information, and relevant comments.


The various map materials, sizes, and recording methods vary greatly over time. Friends of Ancient Cemetery volunteers applied for and received CPA grant money to secure appropriate map case storage and to hire Kelsey Cronin, a trained professional, to oversee the final documentation and safe storage of the Town’s cemetery maps. Kelsey is unrolling and flat storing maps in the appropriate cemetery drawer, providing detailed finding aids for each cemetery collection, photographing, and producing digital documentation and archival reports for the Town. 


See a brief powerpoint in pdf of the work Kelsey did on this project, by clicking here.

Conservation of Gravestones

Fannin-Lehner Preservation Consultants worked in Ancient Cemetery for three days in September to repair and conserve gravestones. They are supported by a Yarmouth Community Preservation Act grant to the Department of Public Works. Our expectation is that this work will continue, given sufficient funding, for the next three to five years or until identified damaged stones are repaired.

A few examples of the conservation efforts of Fannin-Lehrner Conservation Consultants during their three days of work at Ancient Cemetery in September, 2022. The team worked steadily to complete eight stone rescues.  These two stone repairs were perhaps the most noticeable examples.    

A straightforward repair if all the pieces have survived and the break is clean, with no unknown adhesives from previous ‘fixes.’

A thorough cleaning needed before any attempted repairs.

Removing broken pieces before resetting and leveling the bottom half of the stone.

Testing the fit of the retrieved pieces after the base has been leveled and reset.

A conservator’s nightmare.  
Stones set into a deep concrete collar that can not be broken away without doing further damage to the stone.   This was leveled and reset in a mixture of pea gravel and sand. 

Removing the bottom half of the stone, which is set in an old concrete collar.

Clamping a fresh epoxy repair.

Assuring that the third newly epoxied piece is positioned correctly and held in line by the clamps.

Almost done.

The bag of tricks.

Keeping records of each step in the process.

The top of this stone was missing, but after probing, was found buried near by.  The old repairs (concrete and an unknown adhesive) are problematic.

After a considerable time, needed to remove and clean away the previous concrete and adhesive, the angled break is drilled and fitted with non-reactive pins.

The appropriate epoxy mix is applied to the clean surface of the break.

Conservation work in progress.

All three sections are reunited and clamped to secure the hard-won alignment.

Because there was some stone loss, the joined surfaces were filled to make a tighter seal and avoid future weather damage.  The fills are protected while ‘curing.’

The previous concrete repair (top right ‘shoulder’) was left in place because it contributed to the integrity of the broken area.  To try to remove it would likely cause additional damage.  The void produced by missing fragments along the jagged break was filled, both for conservation and cosmetic considerations.

Sturgis Library Exhibit

Our exhibit in August 2022 at the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts included stone examples by a local professional carver, items used to safely clean gravestones, samples of slate, granite and marble, graphs depicting a selection of data collected from cleaned gravestones, illustrations of stones before and after cleaning, books on gravestone history, carving and genealogy, and an aerial map of the old section of Ancient Cemetery. Additionally displays featured fine art photographs of gravestones and foil impressions of gravestones.

gpr-lidar survey

radar gpr survey at ancient cemetery

GPR at southeast corner of Ancient Cemetery.

lidar survey at ancient cemetery

LiDAR at southeast corner of Ancient Cemetery.   photos by Angela Carbone

On 6 March 1826 Yarmouth Selectmen--

Voted: "That all the people of colour shall, in future, bury their dead in the Southeast corner of the burying yard."

Voted: "That the Selectmen shall, in future, be apply'd to by the inhabitants for a place or Lot in the new part of the burying yard to deposit their dead in, and that no person be allowed to intrude on the Lot laid for another family."

Voted: "That Thomas Greenough & other people of colour be requested to remove their dead from the place where they are now deposited & bury them in the Southeast corner of the burying yard as is to be laid out by the Selectmen for that purpose."

Voted: "That William Bray and Capt. Joshua Eldridge be requested to call on Thomas Greenough & others & request them to remove their dead to the Southeast corner of the burying yard, agreeable to the vote of this meeting.
On May 26th, 1826

Voted: " That Capt. Prince Matthews & Capt. James Matthews be a __committee appointed to remove the coloured people that are buried near to the wife of Silvanus Studlely and the daughter of William Bray to some other part of the burying yard, agreeable to the vote passed in a __meeting of the 6th March 1826.

We have not (yet) found records that verify that these actions actually took place. It is hoped that the reports from the GPR and LiDAR scans will be able to answer the question.

map of southeast corner of ancient cemetery

Map showing the Southeast corner of Ancient Cemetery, graves 'unknown'

The GPR will gives information as to what is going on BELOW ground, to a depth of about 8 feet.   Disturbances are observed when the ground has been excavated and back-filled, as well as “voids” and less dense areas of soil, which are caused from the decay of organic matter.

Light pulses from the LiDAR survey-combined with other data recorded by the airborne system-generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

Their results will be combined to produce, as accurately as possible, a sense of unmarked burials in the southeast corner of the Cemetery. This is the first combined GPR and LiDAR study performed on the Cape.


The studies were conducted by Radar Solutions International, a Massachusetts based, WBE/DBE certified firm, providing high quality, advanced geophysical and utility locating services and The GeoNAV Group, a 3D LiDAR scanning and mapping firm specializing in scanning, mapping, and documenting ceremonial stones, features, and landscapes including ancient, sacred, and megalithic stone structures.

In collaboration with William Bullock, Working Foreman, Yarmouth Cemetery Department, in May 2021 we conducted a GPR/LiDAR survey of an undocumented section of Ancient Cemetery, which was set aside in 1826 for the burial of Black and Indian residents. Currently, the area has no gravestones and no associated burial records. Combining GPR, ground penetrating radar, and LiDAR, a reflected laser technology, unmarked graves can be suggested. The GPR gives information as to what is going on BELOW ground, to a depth of about 8 feet.   Disturbances are observed when the ground has been excavated and back-filled, as well as “voids” and less dense areas of soil, which are caused from the decay of organic matter.

Doria L. Kutrubes, President and Geophysicist, RSI (Radar Solutions International) (make this a link) Waltham, MA and Thomas Elmore, Founder of GeoNAV Group (linked), Suffield, CT conducted a GPR and LiDAR study in 2021 of the Southeast Corner of Ancient Cemetery to determine whether or not there are unmarked burials based on orders by the Yarmouth Selectmen in 1826.  Their results are combined to produce, as accurately as possible, a sense of unmarked burials in the southeast corner of the Cemetery. This is the first combined GPR and LiDAR study performed on the Cape.Their findings were presented to Yarmouth Town Administration.

Aerial View of Ancient Cemetery

This fall we were fortunate to have a local photographer, Peter Greer, volunteer to take drone images of the entire old section of Ancient Cemetery. Maria Ferrari used computer magic to stitch the images together to create a hi resolution map. See the aerial view of Ancient Cemetery here.

Meet the Volunteers

Short biographies and photographs of many of our volunteers are published under the For Volunteers tab. Interviews were conducted by a FoAC board member.

Printed Materials

Bookmarks were created for the Sturgis Library Exhibit. They were very popular!

'Business cards' that described the "Lost at Sea" audio/video tour were designed and distributed in Yarmouth and Hyannis.

We distributed brochures about the Ancient Cemetery Project to people who visit the Cemetery, and to the Cape Cod community, to explain our volunteer stewardship and reinforce Ancient Cemetery’s relevance to the community’s social history.

Printed materials designed by Maria Ferrari.

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