Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Update on Human Remains Uncovered at Kentucky Horse Park
LEXINGTON, KY (March 27, 2009) What began as a simple backhoe procedure to install a fire vault for the new Outdoor Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park has become a historical mystery as construction workers accidentally uncovered a lost cemetery.
Last November, a human skeleton was unearthed and eventually a total of 35 skeletons were discovered. As soon as the first remains were found, the Kentucky Horse Park contacted the Fayette County Coroner’s Office. The area – where there was no visible evidence of a cemetery -- was cordoned off and an archaeological dig was launched in cooperation with the Kentucky Heritage Council and the Kentucky Archaeological Survey. The Survey is administered by the Heritage Council and University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology.
“This has been interesting and mysterious. While this cemetery was inadvertently disturbed, it is our hope that ultimately the identity of these early Kentuckians will be determined and their final resting place will no longer be forgotten,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. “Once the Kentucky Archaeological Survey has completed its research and releases the remains, these individuals will be reinterred with respect and dignity at the Kentucky Horse Park in a suitable location, and appropriately honored with a monument and historical information.”
It has already been determined that the cemetery probably dates to the mid-1800s and the Horse Park expects to learn more about the cemetery when the research is completed, Nicholson said.
Mark Dennen, Kentucky Heritage Council acting executive director and state historic preservation officer, said it was important to remember that “when remains are found the response must be to treat these with the utmost respect. Therefore, the careful removal of the remains and the research and reinterment will be done following established procedures. This also gives us the opportunity to learn more about our history and the history of the land at the Kentucky Horse Park. This adds depth and richness to the story the Horse Park can tell and ultimately helps preserve and inform us about our past."