Suspect graveyard burial (South Armagh, N. Ireland): Combined search, forensic anthropology and radiocarbon dating

Róisín A. O'Reilly*, Alastair Ruffell, Paula J. Reimer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Geophysical investigation of a former convent graveyard for conversion to a community centre identified an unrecorded, unmarked burial below a later burial. Archaeological excavation confirmed the presence of skeletonized human remains, considered by police as a possible clandestine burial. Mortuary examination indicated the remains belonged to a mature adult female. To determine whether the deceased could be a recorded missing person, radiocarbon dating was undertaken on a femur and a rib bone. This is not always straightforward, and results showed two possible ages due to intercepts on either side of the nuclear weapons testing spike in atmospheric 14C; however, the later dated burial allowed us to constrain the date of a rib to CE 1959. This study demonstrates that dating a second tissue with a longer turnaround time, such as a femur, can help to constrain which side of the bomb spike is most probable. This paper documents in one work the search, scene and sample and then advances this to resolution by anthropological analysis and radiocarbon dating of human remains.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalScience and Justice
Volume63
Issue number1
Early online date02 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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