Cemetery history in unmarked graves
CHE BAKER IN ALEXANDRA
Forgotten, long-dead Central Otago residents buried in unmarked graves at cemeteries across the region over a century ago have been rediscovered and their burial sites recorded by an archaeologist who has completed a geophysical survey.
Archaeologist Hans-Dieter Bader, of Auckland, conducted the survey last year and found it was likely there were at least 770 unmarked gravesites at 15 of the region's cemeteries.
Mr Bader used a ground penetrating radar known as a fluxgate gradiometer to find and record the unmarked graves. With the machine he was able to measure magnetic variations in the earth which showed if the ground had been disturbed.
Maps of the graveyards were then created on aerial photographs to mark gravesites at the cemeteries.
Clyde Cemetery topped the list of the most unmarked gravesites where it was believed there were up to 130.
Central Otago District Council Maniototo property and facilities manager Janice Remnant presented Mr Bader's findings at the Vincent Community Board meeting on Monday and will attend community board meetings this month to discuss them. There had been a resurgence in public interest of cemetery information and cemetery visits and the survey helped restore many of the region's cemetery files which had been destroyed by fire and flood, Ms Remnant said.
"People are interested in the history and tracking down past family members," she said.
It might never be known who was buried there the findings helped with the management of cemeteries by showing clear areas which could not be used.
"It's like a great big jigsaw puzzle," she said.
- The Mirror
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