Ground-penetrating radar will explore local cemetery

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by Michael Whittaker

Professor Alex Braun explains the operation of GPR to volunteers for the summer-long dig at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Kingston.

Fans of the BBC’s long-running archaeology TV program Time Team know the phrase geo. phys. (geophysics) usually means Ground-Penetrating Radar capable of revealing what lies beneath our feet.

Sunday, October 20, the Rideau Valley Archaeological Society will be introduced to Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) in operation by Queen’s University Prof. Alex Braun and a three-student team at the Edmunds/Willoughby Cemetery on County Road 17 south of Edmonds Locks.

The session will be begin at the Merrickville Legion, Main Street, West at 12:30 PM with a brief presentation on non-destructive GPR pulses used to image subsurface objects and changes in the soil. Participants will then proceed to the cemetery, founded in 1802, to see GPR in action.

The analysis and report by the students, Caroline Ochocinski, Lauren Norenberg and Tim van Heuvelen, will be completed by the end of the year.

Alice Hughes, the late genealogist who contributed more than anyone to the knowledge of Merrickville-Wolford families, established a baseline for this investigation, now in the hands of the investigators. Ms. Hughes transcribed the then-standing 11 headstones, and noted four fieldstone markers in 1963. She returned in 1980 to map the cemetery onto graph paper, and indicated additional field stones.

The Merrickville Public Library holds a collection of genealogical information compiled and donated by Ms. Hughes. Also, the digitized archives of the Merrickville & District Historical Society can be searched at the library.

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