Norwich - A research project to study dozens of Colonial and early 19th century gravestones in the cellar of Christ Episcopal Church halted abruptly earlier this month when historian David Oat spotted what he thought could be a human finger bone in the dirt near a pile of gravestones.
Church history says the gravestones were removed from the old cemetery, and the bodies of church founders and their descendents placed in a mass grave at the side of what was to be the new church built in 1846 on lower Washington Street.
The gravestones were placed in the foundation basement of the new church and remained there, in stacks and piles, partially covered by loose dirt, some broken, others in beautiful condition for the past 1½ centuries. Oat started his research project in June to document the stones and match them with church written records.
Oat immediately stopped work when he saw the small bone and called state Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni to determine if he was indeed working atop a portion of the former churchyard cemetery. Read more.