BNT On Unearthing Of Human Remains

November 1, 2018

The Bermuda National Trust [BNT] has expressed concerns about the unearthing of human remains during an excavation on Tuesday [Oct 30], saying that “this incident demonstrates why it is necessary and in everyone’s interest to follow planning regulations and rules.”

A spokesperson said, “The Bermuda National Trust repeats its concern about the excavation carried out between the West End Sailboat Club building and the Watford Island Military Cemetery, which led to the unearthing of human remains on Tuesday.

“This incident highlights the need for following procedures when human remains are discovered. The remains are protected under the Coroners Act and Public Health Act.

“While the Trust understands that the West End Sailing Club’s excavation was being carried out to expand its youth programme, this incident demonstrates why it is necessary and in everyone’s interest to follow planning regulations and rules. Had the proper procedures been followed in this case, this tragic incident would have been avoided.

“The Trust believes that the remains are likely to have come from unmarked convict graves located in the hillside outside the eastern boundary of the military cemetery. These graves date from the period between 1848 and 1863 when the hill was used as a burial ground.

“The top of the hill was established as a formal military cemetery in 1880 and is now cared for under lease by the Trust, but the surrounding area remains the property of the West End Development Corporation and its lessees.

“The Bermuda National Trust Archaeological Committee identified this area as a burial ground in 2004 after conducting an archaeological assessment of the area and the hillside was subsequently designated as an Historic Protection Area. As such, any excavation or work in this area should only have been carried with Planning permission and following guidance from the relevant heritage professionals.

“Assuming that the Police investigation proceeds as expected, the National Trust and National Museum of Bermuda expect to receive custody of the bones, which will receive an archaeological assessment and will then be interred with respect and dignity in the Military Cemetery.

“The National Trust intends to engage in constructive discussions with other stakeholders to prevent a repetition of this incident in the future.”

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