Bones found at Gaillard Auditorium construction site

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) --{}Bones were found Tuesday under eight to ten feet of dirt at the Gaillard Auditorium construction site.

According to a police report, the bones were found below a driveway that had been in place for the last 50 years.

Eric Poplin is the senior archaeologist who is looking further into the discovery. He said there are two graves and they found skull fractions and a lower jaw and collar bone to one.

Poplin believes the bones most likely date back before 1852, and are adults. {}He said the graves were oriented east and west in length which he believes suggests a cemetery of some sort.

"Our historic researcher will look to see if this was ever defined as a cemetery or any legal description making it a cemetery," he said.

Police investigators did not find anything that suggested suspicious activity at the site of the find, so the project was turned back over to the city's Capital Projects who called in archaeologists. Dustin Clemens, the project manager at the auditorium, said there is evidence of graves and officials think there are actually two sets of bones at the site. Clemens said they are not sure at this point if the bones are going to be removed. "They appear to be very old, we're not even attempted to give an age at this point," Clemens said.

Poplin said at this point they have looked at an 1852 map of Charleston and it does not indicate any cemetery was located there. The map shows houses on the construction site with St. John Church across the street.

The Preservation Society of Charleston said it is not surprising to find burials in the lower portion of the peninsula, and that there once was an neighborhood at the location. Clemens said bones have been found at several different dig sites on the peninsula.

"It's a hidden chapter of Charleston that's been uncovered," Executive Director Evan Thompson said. "We may not find out exactly who they are, but let's hope they get a proper and decent burial."

Poplin said the graves have been covered up so they aren't damaged. Construction in that area has also been postponed.

The city project manager is currently looking at what legally they can do with the remains and does not know if they will be removed or stay there at this time.