In November 2013, Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists, working with forensic anthropologists from the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, excavated and recorded each burial carefully. The church’s remains, a series of postholes outlining a structure measuring 64 feet by 24 feet, had been uncovered in 2010 and 2011. The team chose to excavate the burials because the preservation environment was poor and would only continue to deteriorate owing to rising sea levels, which threaten much of Jamestown Island.
The team meticulously recorded the burials to ensure the information observed in the field can be reconstructed and used by future researchers. Archaeologists used a laser transit integrated with an electronic distance measuring unit (EDM) to accurately record positions of the graves, coffin remains, artifacts, and the bones. Once the skeletal remains in all four graves were exposed, the Jamestown Rediscovery team, in conjunction with Smithsonian’s X 3D unit, collected millions of points with a laser scanner along with hundreds of photographs of the site. The data were compiled to create a 3D model of the chancel graves.