Southeastern Section - 68th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 14-7
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


BOBYARCHICK, Andy R., Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223

Many rural cultural sites are abandoned or lost to time and population relocation. An enduring artifact is the family cemetery. Overgrown and disrupted, the remnants of a small family burial ground are often the only evidence of former occupation. We have investigated such a cemetery in Uwharrie National Forest in central North Carolina with multiple layers of data. It is a late 18th century family plot here called Hearn Cemetery. The objective is to document graves for conservation. The site is overgrown with trees and covered with forest litter but does have several, mostly unmarked, grave stones and surface depressions indicating graves and grave shafts. Some stones are dislocated, and there are many depressions formed over stump holes. Visible indicators of graves were mapped onto a global grid with GPS and also within a local tape-set grid. As some graves may not be marked by depressions or stones, a 400 MHz ground-penetrating radar survey was collected via 24 profiles spaced 0.5 meter apart and anchored to the local grid. Live root density and radar clutter are high on the site, complicating GPR returns. Also, a tile probe matrix was recorded in a 1 x 1 meter grid overlaid on the GPR profiles. The probe was used as a proxy for near-surface (~1 meter depth) soil penetration resistance and recorded on an ordinal scale of 1 (low resistance) to 3 (high resistance). The resulting data set includes topography, probe response, GPR, and visual layers. Hearn Cemetery is on a flat interfluve ridge underlain by meta-argillite. No hard bedrock was detected within 1.0 meter of the ground surface. The probe response map correlates well with visually identified or potential graves with the exception of a 4 x 4 meter anomaly in one corner of the site. This anomaly is uniformly "soft" but there is no visual indication of graves within it. Strong reflectors in the GPR 3D volume coincide with marked graves and depressions, but the probe anomaly also coincides with multiple, strong radar hyperbolae that merge downward with a lateral planar reflector at a depth of ~ 1 meter. The GPR anomaly is a rectilinear polygon. Overall, multiple layers of information produced a reasonable rendition of burials and potential burials. A multiple factor anomaly could be another cultural artifact from when the site was occupied or possibly a result of later human activity.