The principal aim of this restoration was to conserve the North burial ground’s retaining walls in order to preserve the graveyard for posterity. The walls are a Category A listed structure in a cemetery of international importance, and they were in poor condition and there was evidence of previous poor quality repairs.
The site is well known, and gets a lot of visits from tourists, as well as members of the public. The working areas had to be securely fenced off to prevent unauthorised, or unintended access.
Covanburn cleared debris from past wall collapses and sorted the stones for reuse, including copes, wall stone and lintels. Bricks and rubble, which had been used in earlier, poor quality repairs, were removed and replaced with stone matching the original.
Fallen memorial tablets were lifted and reset in their original positions on the walls. Where possible, damaged pieces were pinned and repaired. Previous cementitious repairs in the walls were removed and restored, as well as old repairs that were loose.
The contract specified the use of St Astier lime mortar, but where sound original lime-pointing mortar survives, the contractor should leave the mortar undisturbed. Where missing, defective, or where cement pointing exists, the Covanburn had to cut out and repoint using hydraulic lime putty with fine sand aggregate to narrower joints and hydraulic lime mortar mix to wide joints. Our team was also sure to pay particular attention to weathering surfaces.
A lot of the damage to the walls was as a result of vegetation that had taken root.
Some sections of the wall needed to be taken down to remove the significant tree roots, and much of the internal walls were completely covered in ivy, which had to be removed and the consequential damage repaired using hydraulic lime mortar.
A significant section of the boundary retaining wall had collapsed adjacent to the Royal Infirmary. The debris was cleared and sorted to allow the stone and copes to be reused as much as possible. New brickwork walls were constructed and then faced with the reclaimed stone. The Maxwell Graham Mausoleum had been previously disassembled on health and safety grounds with the stones laid out and numbered in front of the Maxwell Graham wall tablets.
Once the collapsed section of the retaining wall was repaired, the stones for the Mausoleum were re-built with lime mortar. Cast iron roof bars were inserted and a mild steel gate added.
Other walls within the cemetery were in a poor condition, with some having partially collapsed. These too were carefully taken down and re-built.
As well as the masonry works, the pathways around the cemetery were cleared and renewed.