The remains of Sir Jacob Wheate, discovered buried beneath St Peter’s Church, were recently examined by a bio-archaeologist.
Sir Jacob, the Captain of the HMS Ceberus, commonly known as the ‘Musket Ball Wreck’, died in Bermuda in 1783.
In 2008, his remains, along with those of Governor George Bruere, were discovered buried beneath the East End church with no memorial or record marking their final resting place.
The reason for their unusual burial remains a mystery.
The Bermuda National Trust, in conjunction with St Peter’s Church and Brent Fortenberry, who discovered the bodies, recently arranged for bio-archaeologist Ellen Chapman, from the College of William and Mary, to examine Sir Jacob’s remains, which were excavated earlier this year.
Ms Chapman, a doctoral student, spent three days examining the remains. Analysis is said to be ongoing, but initial research suggests that Sir Jacob was around 5ft 3in and was in good health for an older man, but showed signs of dental cavities and slight arthritis. Read more.
Piotr Bojakowski, 32, has been working in Bermuda for about a year as an archaeologist and conservator at the National Museum of Bermuda. We interviewed this native of Poland who has been researching the wreck of the Warwick, a 17th-century ship.
Q: What’s the story on the wreck?
A: In October 1619, the Warwick came to Bermuda with colonists and cargo; it was a stopping point for the English ship, which was bound for Jamestown in Virginia. The ship was here about a month, offloading some colonists and food and preparing to leave. But on Nov. 20, according to chronicles, a hurricane struck Bermuda. The Warwick’s crew was prepped, but the moorings gave way and the ship crashed into the reefs and rocks surrounding the anchorage, one of the best inside Castle Harbour.
The ship was completely lost — sunk with everything it still had on board. The governor of Bermuda, Capt. Nathaniel Butler, had been on board; he had a journal and wrote down events day after day. So we had very good data about the Warwick’s location. Read more.
Off Bermuda, archaeologist Jim Delgado examines fragments of a paint can found in the wreck of the paddle wheel steamer Mary Celestia, a Civil War-era blockade runner that sank 147 years ago.
After storms this past winter had swept silt from the wreck, a Bermudan government expedition discovered newly exposed artifacts, including fragrance bottles and unopened—but strong-smelling—wine.
On September 6, 1864, pilot John Virgin was at the helm as the Mary Celestia left the harbor at Southampton, Bermuda, which was then, as now, a British territory. The Civil War was in its third year, and the fast vessel—bound for Wilmington, North Carolina—was loaded with rifles, ammunition, and other supplies desperately needed by the Confederate States.
‘The loss of the good ship Warwick was not the only disaster that this cruel storm brought with it. It also meant the total ruin of the winter’s crop of corn, to such a great extent that all the inhabitants were very worried about a shortage of food. They had good reason to be anxious, for even though the islands were prolific enough in every respect, and had two harvests every year, yet careless wastage had become the custom with most of the people’ - C.F.E. Hollis Hallett, Butler’s History of the Bermudas, 2007
On October 20, 1619, the third governor arrived in Bermuda at the behest of the Somers Island Company, the corporation that owned the 12,000 acres of the island. Read more.