A special Bermuda National Trust archeological dig is set to plumb the secrets of Bermuda’s oldest churchyard.
The Archaeology Committee of the BNT began surveying the historic churchyard at St. Peter’s Church, St. George’s on Friday and will continue until August 15 thanks to a grant from the Bank of Bermuda Foundation.
The aim of the project is to produce an accurate plan of the property showing the church, the boundary walls and all the memorials throughout the graveyard.
“The Archaeology Committee has been working with Rev. David Raths and the Friends of St. Peter’s for some time now, assisting them with the preparation of a churchyard conservation plan,” said Archaeology Committee Chairman, Richard Lowry. “During our research we discovered that the original cemetery plan has not survived. Once completed, the plan will help the church with repairing and conserving of the historic memorials in time for their 400th anniversary in 2012.It will also help to link other research on the memorial inscriptions conducted recently by Hillary and Richard Tulloch.”
Archaeology students from Bermuda and Boston University began work on July 18th surveying the property, the church and its ancillary buildings, each memorial and even two subterranean chambers underneath St. Peter’s Church itself.
“As the church grew it was always at the expense of the surrounding graves,” said Mr. Lowry. “Graves had to be relocated to other parts of the cemetery and new foundations had to be laid for the Church. These underground chambers probably relate to this.”
The project is being sponsored by the Bank of Bermuda Foundation. “For the second year running the Bank of Bermuda Foundation has funded the archaeology programmes of the BNT and we are grateful for their continued support,” said BNT Executive Director, Jennifer Gray.
Bank of Bermuda Foundation Chairman, David Lang said “Bermuda’s heritage is extremely important to the Bank of Bermuda Foundation so we are proud to support the work of the Bermuda National Trust and Archaeology Committee in the World Heritage Site of St. George’s.”
In addition to the survey, the Archaeology Committee will be excavating some adjacent properties, including Whitehall and Ming House in order to get a better understanding of the early landscape of St. George’s. The BNT will also be running an archaeology camp from July 21to 25 to train local budding archaeologists.
A wooden church was built on the site in 1619 and this was replaced by a stone building around 1713. The church has undergone several successive renovations throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and even after its replacement had been virtually completed (the Unfinished Church).St. Peter’s has continued to serve its parishioners for nearly four centuries.
For volunteering information, or more details contact Kelly Way at the BNT at 236-6483 or check our website www.bnt.bm.

Royal Gazette