Infernal Traffic: Excavation of a Liberated African Graveyard in Ruperts Valley, St Helena
This project relates to archaeological investigations of the Liberated African graveyards in Ruperts Valley, on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. These works were undertaken between 2007 and 2008, and were funded by the British Government (Department for International Development). They arose from wider environmental studies undertaken in response to proposals to build an airport on the island.
The graveyards belong to the middle decades of the 19th century, and relate to Britains attempts to abolish the transatlantic slave trade. Between 1840 and 1872 a Vice-Admiralty court operated on St Helena, adjudicating cases of slave ships captured by the Royal Navy. As a part of this process, the human cargo of these vessels - nearly all of whom had been transported in appalling conditions - were brought ashore on St Helena. Most were received into a depot in Ruperts Valley, and those who did not survive were buried there.
The excavation recovered 325 human skeletons from single-, multiple- and mass graves. Ten pits containing large quantities of disarticulated bone were also excavated. Over one hundred registered individual or group small finds were found in association with the burials. Most of this assemblage has a European origin, but a few items (notably jewellery) may have been owned by the Africans prior to their enslavement.
The report for this site has been produced in two parts: a printed volume published by CBA (Pearson et al. 2011); and a digital volume deposited with ADS. Also held by ADS are supporting data: the primary site record and miscellaneous documents generated during the excavation and post-excavation stages of the project.