Tales from Digging at the Old North Crypt

By Matt Conti

It is a real-life “Tales from the Crypt” as a new archeological dig is

ongoing underneath Old North Church surrounding its colonial era tombs. Boston archeologist Joe Bagley says it is a guarantee that many artifacts will be found, but the big question is whether human remains will be uncovered. There are historical records of an Old North Church vicar who gave a sermon mentioning a human burial under the crypt walkway. Along with Bagley, on site is osteoarchaeologist Jane Lyden Rousseau as the team looks for clues and potential bone fragments.

Old North Church Vicar and Foundation President Stephen T. Ayres said, “The archeological dig is necessary in preparation of repairing the brick tombs and to install a dehumidification system to prevent further damage.” The restoration is part of an $11 million capital campaign and restoration of the historic church, partially funded by the National Park Service.

There are 37 tombs under Old North Church in use from 1730 to the mid-1800’s. The crypt has actually seen over 1,100 burials because the tombs were reused many times (and then some). Follow along with the Old North crypt dig at the City of Boston Archaeology Facebook page.