SCA Research Grant 2010

Excavation of the grave of Sir Jacob Wheate, St Peter's Church, Bermuda

Brent Fortenberry, Boston University

St Peter's Church, St George's, Bermuda

The 2010 Society for Church Archaeology Research Grant provided funding for the excavation of Sir Jacob Wheate (d.1783), Commander of HMS Cerberus, at St Peter's church in St George's, Bermuda. While nearly 35% of the remains were truncated by a 20th century concrete support wall, the remainder of the skeleton was successfully excavated by a team a volunteer archaeologists from Boston University and the Bermuda National Trust. Currently the remains are awaiting specialist analysis at the Bermuda National Trust Archaeology Laboratory in St George's.

While the results of the analysis are still pending, the discovery and excavation of Sir Jacob Wheate has provided invaluable insight into 18th century burial practices on Bermuda as well as the architectural phasing of St Peter's church. When completed the remains will be re-entombed in St Peter's churchyard in an Anglican ceremony by members of the Royal Navy.

This excavation is part of my larger dissertation project entitled The Life of a Church and the Eventual Death of a State House: Public Space in St George's Bermuda, which focuses on religious and state public practice in St George's, the colonial capital of Bermuda from 1612 until 1815.