Raleigh Cemetery Investigations
At the request of the City of Raleigh and FEMA, CRA conducted an archaeological investigation of trees that were uprooted during a strong storm that occurred in Raleigh, North Carolina. The affected trees were located at three cemeteries: Mount Hope Cemetery, established in 1872 for use by the local African-American population; City Cemetery, founded in 1798; and O’Rorke Catholic Cemetery, established in 1858 on land provided by the Catholic Diocese. Mount Hope Cemetery exhibited the most damage, with 33 trees of sufficient size to require archaeological investigation. City Cemetery contained 14 trees, and O’Rorke Catholic Cemetery contained 1 tree.
The investigation involved the archaeological excavation of sediments attached to tree rootballs and the loose sediments within the associated rootball cavities. Most of the 48 tree rootballs investigated did not contain mortuary-related materials. However, 6 tree rootballs at Mount Hope Cemetery contained evidence of vaults, caskets, and/or personal items, and 6 contained possible mortuary-related items, including shells (conch and freshwater mussel), glass containers, and flowerpot fragments. Fourteen rootballs at Mount Hope Cemetery contained non-mortuary materials that may have resulted from use of the property before it was established as a cemetery. At City Cemetery, mortuary materials were identified in 2 tree rootballs, but 1 of these rootballs contained 3 separate graves. In all, 4 graves were affected by uprooting of trees at City Cemetery, and all 4 contained casket hardware, personal items, and human remains. Non-mortuary materials were recovered from 6 trees at City Cemetery. The single tree affected at O’Rorke Catholic Cemetery contained only non-mortuary materials, and no graves were affected.