The Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) Department of Research and Collections has made an exciting discovery at the St. Mary’s Fort Site in Maryland. The remains of a young European man were found outside the fort, and it is believed that he was buried in the late 1630s. This discovery could be one of the oldest colonial burials ever found in the state.

Credit: Historic St. Mary’s City

Experts from the Smithsonian Institution, Curator of Biological Anthropology Douglas Owsley, and Biological Anthropologist Kari Bruwelheide, joined HSMC to study the remains of the young man. They estimate that he was between 15 and 16 years old at the time of his death. The individual was buried directly in the ground, without a coffin or burial shroud. The lack of a formal burial suggests that he did not have family or people who cared for him in the colony.

Travis Parno, Acting Executive Director, and Director of Research and Collections said that the discovery was “an important opportunity to learn about an individual who probably never appeared in the historical record. Archaeology and forensic anthropology will help us bring life and voice to a young man from the earliest period of the Maryland colony, a time when written records were sparse.”

The remains will be cleaned and transported to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for further analysis by Owsley and Bruwelheide.

St. Mary’s Fort Site is currently closed to tours and public access due to the ongoing removal of remains. There is no word on when the site will reopen at this time.

The palisaded St. Mary’s Fort was erected in 1634 by the first wave of European settlers who founded Maryland. The site, which spans an area approximately the size of a football field, is located in Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) in Southern Maryland.

This discovery provides valuable insights into the early settlers of Maryland. The life, death, and burial of this person could reveal more about the conditions and customs of the colony during its earliest days. The young man’s remains could offer a glimpse into the life of someone who may have been forgotten by history but now has a chance to be remembered.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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