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Life and Death in Early Rural Otago

The archaeology and bioarchaeology of St. John’s Burial Ground Milton, Otago, New Zealand

Peter Petchey and Hallie Buckley with contributions by Jane Batcheller, Charlotte King, and Rod Wallace
Publication Year:
118 pages
BAR number:


This book describes the investigation of St John’s Cemetery near Milton in Otago, southern New Zealand, that was carried out in 2016 as part of a wider study of early settler graves in the region. The cemetery was used between 1860 and 1926 and contains the burials of some of the first European (predominantly British) settlers in the area. In collaboration with a local group of descendants, Petchey and Buckley carried out an excavation that located and investigated twenty-five unmarked graves containing twenty-seven individuals. By combining archaeological, historical, and bioarchaeological approaches, a detailed picture of the lives of these people has been built up, giving insights into the experience of leaving the Old World and emigrating to New Zealand in the mid-nineteenth century. This is the first detailed investigation of this nature to have been conducted in New Zealand and provides a unique insight into the settler experience.

Peter Petchey is an archaeologist based in southern New Zealand and specialises in historic and industrial archaeology. He has a particular focus on the nineteenth century New Zealand goldfields and historic mining in South east Asia.

Hallie Buckley is a bioarchaeologist working on health and disease in the Asia Pacific region. Her work is concerned with investigating human adaptation to the environment during periods of initial colonisation and biocultural transitions.

With contributions by Jane Batcheller (University of Alberta), Charlotte King (University of Otago) and Rod Wallace (University of Auckland)

‘This is an excellent piece of work and is unique in New Zealand with its focus on the archaeological and biological investigations of a colonising cemetery. Other publications have recorded cemeteries and excavated graves in New Zealand and Australia but the incorporation of the bioanthropological profiling of the burials is rare and a first for New Zealand.’ Associate Professor Stuart Bedford, Australian National University/Max Planck Institute

Introduction (S3102_Petchley_9781407360072_-_Introduction.pdf, 5,461 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (S3102_Petchley_9781407360072_-_ToC.pdf, 239 Kb) [Download]