Hidden Meaning: A Catholic Reliquary in an Anglican World

Author(s): Merry Outlaw

Year: 2017


More than one hundred human burials have been excavated at Jamestown over the past 20 years, and thus far, few have contained grave goods.  The discovery of a small box on top of Captain Gabriel Archer’s coffin was, therefore, surprising to archaeologists.  Extensive scientific testing determined the box is silver and contains human bone and a lead ampulla.  It is a Catholic reliquary, a container to store holy relics—the bones of a saint, and a vial of holy water or blood of a saint.  This paper will attempt to explain the presence of a Catholic reliquary in an Anglican church in an Anglican colony, at a time when English Catholics were severely restricted from practicing their faith, and when all but the highest-ranking colonists took a loyalty oath to King James I as the head of church and state. 

Cite this Record

Hidden Meaning: A Catholic Reliquary in an Anglican World. Merry Outlaw. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435310)


Temporal Keywords
17th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 729