Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 59 Number 3: 154-159 -December 1997

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Virginia Burial Caves: An Inventory of a Desecrated Resource
David A. Hubbard, Jr. and Michael B. Barber


In an ongoing inventory of Virginia cave resources, 23 burial caves have been field documented by the Marginella Burial Cave Project (MBCP). All but one site have been vandalized to varying degrees. In addition to the burial resource inventory, goals of the MBCP include measures for site protection and education. Problems have been encountered by the MBCP in attaining these goals. The sensitive and sacred nature of these cave resources, however, warrant limiting site specific discussions to protected sites. One burial cave in Montgomery County and two in Lee County are protected by gates because of recent disturbances. Adams Cave (44MY482) served as a party cave, but was not known as a burial site until a student brought a human mandible and two long bone fragments to a college professor and an investigation ensued. Indian Burial Cave (44LE11) was known locally as a burial cave and has suffered desecration for decades. Bone Cave (44LE169) was known locally as a burial site, mistakenly attributed to black slaves, but MBCP and Phase II archaeological investigations documented this Native American burial site and provided information that helped to alter the path of a road realignment through the cave. The examination and analysis of these and other Virginia caves by the MBCP has resulted in significant new knowledge about the use and distribution of caves as Native American burial sites.

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