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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Burial Ground Unearthed Near URI Football Field

Kingston, RI-August 24, 1999 -- An archaeological firm unearthed a burial ground near the URI football field at Meade Stadium last week, uncovering 36 gravesites and speculating that there may be additional gravesites that could not be accessed. The archaeologists will be preparing a statistical estimate of the full count of the gravesites within the burial ground, which appears to be a plot with more than one family.

The burial ground was discovered in May 1999 during a drilling program conducted by Maguire Group, a consultant working on site engineering surveys and digs for the URI Convocation Center project. Maguire personnel were identifying locations to collect soil samples when the site of the burial ground became known. A member of the URI grounds crew advised the consultant to avoid the area. It has not been determined whether the burial plot falls within the Convocation Center footprint.

When Larry Bacher, the program manager for the Convocation Center project, was informed of the discovery this May he initiated a state process to hire an archaeological firm to assess the nature, identity, significance and extent of the burial ground.

The Public Archaeological Laboratory of Pawtucket, RI, is the firm conducting the physical and historical review. Their work involves mapping the boundaries of the burial ground, identifying the gravesites, and reporting findings to the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC).

The archaeologists ruled out that the site is an Indian burial ground and speculate that the gravesites date back to the 1700s.

Articles published in 1986 indicate that a similar excavation was conducted 13 years ago this month that revealed the burial site. The current information about the site appears to be inconsistent with what was theorized in 1986.

The University needs to assess the situation and determine the appropriate course of action. The archaeological firm will submit its report to RIHPHC. The University expects a final report from the firm within the next four weeks.

If the most appropriate course of action is to relocate the gravesites, one of the first steps in the process is to advertise to identify family members, descendants or anyone who has any connections to or information about the gravesite.

In the meantime, and prior to the first football game of the season on September 4, the area will be cordoned off with snow fencing.

The 140-acre parcel that was used to establish the University had been a farm, known as the Oliver Watson Farm, before it was sold in 1888, when the University was chartered as the state's agricultural school.

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For More Information: Linda A. Acciardo 401-874-2116



 

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