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Ancient gravesites of unknown ancestors found at Lower Church

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Ground-penetrating radar has revealed at least 14 hidden graves in the churchyard at Lower United Methodist Church in Hartfield. Above, Bruce W. Bevan of Geosight in Weems moves the antenna sled during the geophysical survey on Monday. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

A few years ago local surveyor Dalton Brownley found what appeared to be graves at the woods edge behind Lower United Methodist Church at Hartfield. He figured there must be more graves in the churchyard because the original wooden church was built in 1650.

As a surveyor, Brownley, of Hartfield, had previously come across what appeared to be abandoned cemeteries in forested areas, far from houses. Rows of depressions in the earth marked forgotten graves. Sometimes these hidden cemeteries were covered with ivy that had crept over the area while it was clear.

After waiting years, Brownley got his wish. This week ground-penetrating radar was run across the earth around Lower Church by Bruce W. Bevan of Weems, who specializes in geophysical exploration for archaeology.

Bevan’s radar found what appears to be 12 graves on the church’s north side, which faces Route 33, said Brownley.

A full study report will be issued at a later date.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 02.19.2014

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