Archeologist uncovers last of Gaillard Center gravesites

25 graves and counting at the Gaillard Center site
Published: Feb. 14, 2013 at 10:43 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2013 at 12:07 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Excavation at the Gaillard Center was put on hold Friday after crews uncovered what is believed to be the extent of the gravesites.

Nearly 30 graves dating back to the 1700s were found near the Gaillard Center. With the extent of the gravesites discovered, officials will begin the process of documenting the grave locations, according to Barbara Vaughn with the City of Charleston Media Relations Office.

Vaughn says officials plan to meet with the Charleston County Coroner Friday to determine what steps to take next.

The 27 graves found Thursday were possibly dug around 1760 before the Revolutionary War. Poplin found several animal bones throughout the day and was also came across bones of human remains.

"This is the grave for the first burial that was found," said Archeologist Eric Poplin as he pointed to the outline of a grave.

Poplin was able to get back to searching for more human remains Thursday after being forced to take a few days off due to bad weather.

Diggers eventually hit bricks that are thought to have been part of a building's foundation and could've been built after the graves were dug.

"If people were behaving the way they're supposed to, following the rules, no one would bury anyone in their back yard," said Poplin.

The site is near the corner of George and Anson Streets. It was once the edge of the city and Calhoun Street was only a creek.

Poplin said the graves are positioned in a way that makes him think the site may have been a cemetery. No record has been found of a cemetery ever being there.

"There are a lot of cemeteries and burial grounds around the city. Many of them are recorded in the historical record and we know where they are today but many of them aren't recorded," said Poplin.

The next step will be to figure out the number of graves in the area and how they should be handled.

Poplin said, "You try to be as considerate and sensitive as possible. Its people's ancestors and when we open the graves we will expect to find a little bit of personal items that might help us identify who the people are or the time period that we're talking about."

No nails or wood from caskets were found and Poplin thinks the bodies could have been wrapped in cloth. Workers plan to continue digging Friday.

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