It may be snow season, but digging out in the North End takes on new meaning at the underground crypt of the Old North Church. Boston archeologist Joe Bagley is overseeing a new dig this week under the walkways surrounding the colonial era tombs. It’s a guarantee that many artifacts will be found, but the big question is whether human remains will be uncovered. There are historical records of an Old North Church vicar who gave a sermon mentioning a human burial under the crypt walkway. Along with Bagley, on site is osteoarchaeologist Jane Lyden Rousseau as the team looks for clues and potential bone fragments.
Old North Church Vicar and Foundation President Stephen T. Ayres said, “The archeological dig is necessary in preparation of repairing the brick tombs and to install a dehumidification system to prevent further damage.” The restoration is part of an $11 million capital campaign and restoration of the historic church, partially funded by the National Park Service. (contributions welcome here.)
There are 37 tombs under Old North Church in use from 1730 to the mid-1800’s. The crypt has actually seen over 1,100 burials because the tombs were reused many times (and then some). Follow along with the Old North crypt dig at the City of Boston Archaeology Facebook page.