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Radar digs deep into St George’s history

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Interested locals gathered around the ground-penetrating radar which was used to capture subsurface images of King Square in St George’s as well as other sites around the island (Photograph supplied)

An archaeological project using radar technology to see beneath the ground suggests that about half of what is now King’s Square in St George was once underwater as part of a natural bay.

The survey, being led Michael Jarvis of the University of Rochester; David Givens, director at Jamestown Rediscovery; and Peter Leach of Geophysical Survey Systems in New Hampshire, has also revealed what may be the foundations of a house on Trunk Island in Harrington Sound that appears on a 1663 map.

Images captured by the ground penetrating radar will be used to identify areas to excavate this July and August, which will help to confirm the radar’s findings.

Dr Michael Jarvis (File photograph)

Dr Jarvis, who has also been carrying out the ongoing Smith’s Island Archaeological Project since 2012, said: “Probably the most interesting elements in King’s Square are where we went back and forth, perpendicular to the shoreline, and we could see the original shoreline. The middle of town hall may lie on original coastline – The White Horse [Pub and Restaurant], the tourist building, appears to be on man-made land.

“On Trunk Island, we were particularly looking for the 1663 house on the crest of a hill. We found a square cut down into the bedrock. It is right where the map has the house so it is highly promising.”

The team of top archaeological experts is working in partnership with the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, Bermuda National Trust, the St George’s Foundation and the Corporation of St George's.

The technology is expected to help towards the identification of historically important sites for future preservation.

Charlotte Andrews, head of cultural heritage at the Bermuda National Trust, said the survey work “provides a high-tech window into the past”.

“GPR can help us identify archaeological resources for protection from negative impacts and for possible future excavation involving the community,” Dr Andrews said.

“It’s exciting this team is testing the technology in different Bermuda sites and conditions, including those of Outstanding Universal Value to humanity under the surface of our World Heritage Site: The Historic Town of St George's and Related Fortifications.

“Such precious archaeological resources not only shed light on past Bermuda lives and landscapes but have huge potential to enhance our cultural tourism, to help us proactively manage development and climate change risks, and to support uses of heritage that forge community connections and senses of identity.”

Ground-penetrating radar, which uses radar pulses to create subsurface images, was used in April at King’s Square in St George’s; Smallpox Bay on Smith’s Island, St George’s; and Trunk Island on Harrington Sound in Hamilton Parish.

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Published May 04, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated May 04, 2022 at 7:46 am)

Radar digs deep into St George’s history

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