Work halts as remains are found in slave valley

A human grave was disturbed during roadworks in Rupert’s Valley, St Helena Government has reported. Remains are likely to be those of liberated Africans, brought ashore when the island was used as a base for captured slave-running ships.

Basil Read, the airport contractor halted work as soon as the remains were found on 12 December 2014, further up the valley from the area where mass graves were carefully excavated in 2007, in readiness for constructing an access road to the airport site.

The government statement said: “All evidence points to these being further liberated African remains.

“Earlier finds under the airport project have been of scatter material (fragments left from earlier excavations). This find appears to be part of a previously undisturbed grave.

“It also appears to confirm earlier assessments by Dr Andy Pearson of Bristol University, that further liberated African graves might be located in Rupert’s Valley. Works on the access road have specifically avoided areas of known graves, whilst recognising the risk of further remains being uncovered.

“The archaeology protocol under the airport project specifically recognises this risk and sets out measures to be implemented should there be such a find.  This protocol was immediately and effectively implemented, and all works have ceased in the area, which is now closed pending full mitigation measures.”

SEE ALSO: Podcasts – hear the story of story of St Helena’s anti-slavery fight

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