Excavation highlights Catholic burial difference

Catholics buried in an early Sydney graveyard may have been buried facing the west to differentiate them from people of other faiths, an archeological dig has discovered.

Over the last three weeks, a meticulous dig of the cemetery - which is in the basement of Sydney's Town Hall - has unearthed 53 graves of adults and children.

AAP reports the cemetery, which was established in 1792 by Governor Arthur Phillip, revealed no headstones were found, however, unusually, more than half of them look to the west.

Excavation director Dr Mary Casey said there seemed to be no pattern to the placement of the graves.

"We would expect that most would be looking to the east, looking to the rising sun," Dr Casey said.

"It may be because the Catholics were buried a different way than the other convicts."

The cemetery was in operation from 1792 to 1820 and it was the first permanent cemetery in Sydney, and the second permanent cemetery in Australia.

There was no official burial register for the site, but records indicated an estimated 2,263 people were buried at the cemetery, including 557 convicts, 295 "free" men, 507 infants under five and 185 soldiers.

Earliest Sydney residents dug up in CBD (The Age 22/01/08)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sydney Town Hall - burial ground

23 Jan 2008