Friday, February 27, 2004

BVI: Bones rise

The two skeletons that were unearthed near Lambert Beach Resort earlier this month might not be such a surprising find, according to Michael Kent, lecturer for Virgin Island Studies at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. "There are bodies buried all over the Virgin Islands," explained Mr. Kent.

During the slave era, each plantation had its own burial ground at the side or at the back of the plantation. "There were 104 plantations on Tortola," said Mr. Kent. "I would estimate that there are around 90, even up to a hundred burial grounds." Additionally, there was no cremation or embalming services available on the islands up until the modern age, according to Mr. Kent.

"Bodies had to be buried as soon as possible, otherwise they would turn into health hazards," he said. "This explains the wide dispersion of grave sites."

Mr. Kent stated that it was customary to plant a Tamarind tree over graves to mark the site. Usually, bodies would have been buried at six feet, but land displacement and erosion might have altered the depth of some graves. "Some of the skeletons might be just two feet below the ground, others might be as deep as fifteen feet," said Mr. Kent.

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