27 more graves unearthed at Gaillard construction site

The third grave found (Stefanie Bainum/WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) A day of unfettered digging in downtown Charleston yielded another 27 graves for archaeology crews working with the City of Charleston.

The find adds to the mystery of what used to sit on the property. Archaeologists said there used to be a meat market near the area in the 18th century.

The first two graves were found last week below a driveway that had been in place for the last 50 years. A series of rainy days disrupted further excavation; Thursday was the first chance crews were able to get back into the site.

At first, scientists only found bits of what looked like pottery but then came across a bone which led them to the third grave and then a fourth. Four finds turned into a dozen into 20 and more. The latest graves match the markings of the previous graves found.

A search of property records dating back to 1818 shows that the site was never a recorded cemetery or grave site.

Senior archaeologist Eric Poplin said he believes the bones most likely{}predate 1852 and are adults. {}He said the graves were oriented east-to-west in length, which he believes suggests a cemetery of some sort.

He said the bones could date back as far as the 1760s.

"It's pretty cool, I mean finding and digging up dead people requires a lot of skill for archaeologists," said Poplin. "You try to be as considerate as possible with people's ancestors. You try to take as much skill as you can when you're dealing with this."

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.

The excavation project continued into the afternoon.

"We'll try to figure out just how many there are and where they are and the city will take that information and then figure out a plan of what to do with them," Poplin said.

He added it's a process that could take time, but probably not as long as the graves have been buried beneath feet of earth and concrete.

Poplin said the team would return on Friday to map the area, adding they would likely not be doing any more digging.