Objects > Historic Gravemarkers > Dorchester North Burying Ground


Dorchester North Burying Ground

Historical Significance

The Dorchester North Burying Ground was established in 1634 as the first burying ground in Dorchester, MA.  The burying ground was landscaped in 1834 by Boston resident and celebrated horticulturalist Samuel Downer, who planted over 400 shade and rare-specimen trees.  A National Register of Historic Places site, the Dorchester North Burying Ground contains the earliest gravemarker still existing in Boston’s ancient burial grounds, the slab of Abel and Submite Clark (d. 1644, 1648).  The broad range of 17th, 18th, and 19th century gravemarkers (over 1200 total in slate, marble, sandstone, granite, and bronze) offer a diversity of colors, shapes, and styles, from the winged death’s heads of early Puritan funerary tradition to the Victorian era’s slender, elegant stones inscribed with neoclassical urns and weeping willows.  The historic figures buried here include Lt. Gov. William Stoughton (d. 1701), who presided as Chief Justice over the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the Reverend Richard Mather (d. 1669), Pastor of Dorchester and father of the renowned Mather clan, and Boston’s first printer, John Foster (d. 1681).  The Boston Museum of Fine Arts displays the original slate carving of John Foster’s gravemarker in the Early American Art Gallery.


Conservation Treatment

  • ŸStone cleaning.
  • ŸCrack injection using dispersed hydrated lime injection grout.
  • ŸFills in water traps and along mendlines using Edison System 45 mortar mixed with color matched slate aggregate.
  • ŸRepairs of broken sections of markers using structural epoxy and stainless steel pins where appropriate.
  • Reburial in leveled beds.

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