Results from a Ground Penetrating Radar survey undertaken at
Werribee Cemetery have been able to shed new light on Wyndham's
rich heritage stored below layers of subsurface soil.
In undertaking the research last year local cemetery authority
the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT) hoped that the use
of radar technology would assist the cemetery authority in creating
a more complete 'map' of Werribee Cemetery and unearth a lost
chapter in the history of the local Wyndham community.
The research arose after initial discussions with Wyndham City
Council suggested an investigation of the area was needed to
determine if the area had previously been used for burials
following loss of valuable historic documents held by the cemetery
in the 1950s which detailed plot allocations between the years 1864
GMCT spokesman, Scott Samson said initial analysis of grid
samples taken in July last year by the scientific research team at
GBG Australia Pty Ltd have provided a rich vein of data for the
GMCT to explore.
"Last year we used ground penetrating radar to search for
coffin-shaped disturbances approximately 900 mm below the soil
surface in one of the oldest and most significant sections of the
cemetery" Mr Samson said.
"Results analysed by GBG Australia and the GMCT have revealed
multiple subsurface anomalies that suggest numerous disturbances
that may have been the result of previous, unrecorded interments
within the cemetery grounds or, as has been discovered in similar
situations at cemeteries across Australia, agricultural and
domestic archaeological artifacts from early local settlement in
the Wyndham region.
"In the intervening twelve months, we have been carefully
studying copies of the original handwritten Minutes Books that had
been kept by the old cemetery trust, now located at Wyndham City
Library, for any clue as to what might be the cause of the
subsurface soil disturbances and events occurring within the
cemetery grounds during the lost years.
"Conducting research into potentially lost burial plots is
painstaking work and, as the responsible cemetery authority, we
have to be very sure about any discoveries," Mr Samson said.
The GMCT hopes to integrate these historical discoveries into
plans for future burial spaces for the local community.