During the summer of 2015, a major operation was undertaken to exhume the graveyard and clear the site of all human remains. Archaeological research showed there to be 93 burials still in the graveyard, all dating from the 19th century, in 35 brick built vaults.
Graveyard exhumation is a process that is undertaken under very strict controlled conditions, with due respect for the remains and provision for reburial. The work was undertaken by specialist exhumation contract Phoenix Exhumations.
Although there were clues to what would be found below ground, it was not until the first stone was lifted that we really discovered how these vaults had been used. Each vault was 12ft deep, with some of them having two intermediary levels so there could be three layers of coffins in one vault. The stones were lift off using vacuum suction pads attached to a lifting crane, before excavation of each individual vault.
All the reburials have now taken place.
The headstones are currently being stored safely offsite. They will be returned at the end of the project and re-laid to form part of the hard landscaping around the building.
Below are a couple of videos of the exhumation process;