Archaeologist excavating graves - Poplin in foreground
Wednesday, January 01, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The recent discovery of 37 graves at the Gaillard Center construction site has intrigued all of Charleston. Who were these people? When and why were they buried there?

Hear from historical and archeological experts in Charleston County Public Library’s program, Graves At the Gaillard Center: The Rediscovery of a Forgotten Resting Place.

Dr. Nic Butler, manager of CCPL’s Charleston Archives and Public Historian, will provide an overview of the site’s history, and Brockington and Associates Senior Archeologist Dr. Eric Poplin will discuss the ongoing efforts to excavate and analyze these long-forgotten remains.

While clearing a trench at the Gaillard Center construction site in February, workers exposed a long-lost graveyard with the graves of 37 adults, teenagers and children believed to have lived between 1690 and 1750. The City of Charleston authorized the removal and re-interment of graves to an appropriate location that has yet to be determined.

Initial examination of the graves indicates that the site was an active burial site for several years, and not created for a sudden purpose, such as a mass illness. The remains, buried on their backs and facing east in the accepted Christian position, were recovered with coins meant to cover eyes per burial tradition, buttons and pieces of broken ceramics. 

The minimal coffin materials found indicate that the individuals came from the lower rungs of society. During the presentation, Butler and Poplin will discuss updated excavation findings, analysis expectations and plans for future study.