More skeletal remains uncovered at old Cloverleaf Mall site - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

More skeletal remains uncovered at old Cloverleaf Mall site

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Archaeologists uncover more skeletal remains near the site of the new Kroger where Cloverleaf Mall used to be.

Archaeologists are tasked with protecting what's out there. They're using heavy equipment to dig up remains believed to be from the 19th century. The process then begins to find their families who may not want cameras up close in their personal business.

The archaeological dig is slow and careful. A smooth bucket excavator draws away surface layers before a more tedious task begins.

"There are several other archaeologists on the team that start doing hand removal," said Chris Dodson with the Timmons Group.

Four skeletal remains, believed to be from the mid-1800's, have been identified as well as coffin remnants. Williamsburg-based archaeologists are working to identify a fifth grave.

The excavation is not where the new Kroger is being built, but where future apartments would be. A burial permit prohibits pictures of the excavation site. The Department of Historic Resources is protecting the area from relic hunters and others who shouldn't be here.

"By keeping certain locations secret, then we don't have the opportunity for someone else to come out here in the dead of night and disturb the site; dig it up," said Dodson.

One week ago, construction crews discovered a skull and bones south of where the old Cloverleaf Mall Hetch's building stood.

"There's a question as to whether there was pavement there, or whether a wooded area, it was only through sheer luck it was found," said Dodson.

I did some digging for pictures before the mall existed. This aerial photo borrowed from the Virginia Department of Forestry dates back to 1955. Chesterfield County sent over an even older one from 1937 of farmland. We're told there's not enough information yet to say the graves are part of a family plot.

"None of the grave sites will be exhumed until the whole area limits are identified and we'll begin that process," said Dodson.

There's no dollar figure yet on the cost of the excavation. Dodson says it'll be up to the county and developer who pays for it.

As for the new Kroger store, a grand opening is expected in early December.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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