This month, February 2016, the UWI Mona Heritage Committee fulfilled a longstanding commitment to re-inter bones from burials disturbed in February 2012 during drainage work for a new Faculty of Medical Science building. No map had shown the location as being a burial ground and the origins of the bones is as yet unproved. But the untombed graves would have been located on the periphery of the works yard for the Papine Sugar Estate which operated, with enslaved and subsequently free labour, from the mid-late 1700s to the time of Emancipation in 1838; after which it was for a time a livestock penn. The men, women and children who laboured on the estate, lived in the vicinity: normally between 140 – 190 persons at any time from 1783 to 1832.

It is, at the least, speculated that the graves may have belonged to some of these persons.

Three seasons of archaeological survey digs in the late 2000s, at estate-related sites on what is now the UWI Mona campus, generated more than 50,000 artifacts that are now in the collection of the UWI Mona’s Archaeology Lab; but did not discover any human remains that might have pointed to a burial site. The work at Papine, and subsequently also the adjacent Mona Estate, was carried out by the UWI Department of History & Archaeology in association with the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) of the US Thomas Jefferson Foundation. A large percentage of these artifacts, including ceramic and glass shards, wrought iron nails, adornment items and tools are from the Works Yard/Village areas of the Papine Estate. While the UWI Museum does not presently hold any artifacts relating to the site, Curator Dr Suzanne Francis-Brown has been involved in research and writing on the history of the Papine and Mona estates, on which the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus is overlaid. The book, Mona Past and Present. The History & Heritage of the Mona Campus, University of the West Indies, published in 2004, was a resource for the archaeology work done.



  1. Very decent to have this memorial to the people whose remains were disturbed. Poignant that they are now marked, while the remains had been ‘lost’ before.


    • I’m advised that excerpts of the ceremony will air on the UWI ‘On Campus’ radio programme, Sunday Feb 21, at 2pm on Newstalk 93FM and 4pm on RJR 94 FM – for those within reach who might like to tune in.


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