Recap of the lecture by Paul Cheetham, Senior Lecturer and Geophysical Surveying Guru at Bournemouth University.
I found this lecture marvellous as it gave a great insight into the minds of murderers on the disposal of bodies be it a crime of passion or a calculated murder. Paul Cheetham talked about how a grave is like a time capsule capturing the personality and traits of the perpetrator. The grave can be also as important as the body; the grave could contain personal belongings of the victim as well as the criminal, some rogue hairs or blood, or contain the tools that made the murder and burial possible. I also understood the process and evolution of forensic archaeology, from the use of shovels and great man power to the new technology of geophysics and cadaver dogs. I found this to be extremely fascinating as the techniques evolved into a more archaeological practice and viable way of accessing more evidence.
So much can give a suspect away, the position of the grave, is it close to the road side with easy road access or in the middle of a field or woodlands? Is the grave in an area the suspect feels safe or familiar with? Is the grave within a 45 minute driving distance? If so this could give away a lot more than the perpetrator thinks. Our personality, skill level and habits are all visible when we create a grave. The nature of the grave also can be a clear marker, is there mixing of sub and top soil? Has the settlement of the grave filling exposed the graves indentation? Are there changes in the surrounding plants? Are they suddenly blooming or withering away? If yes to any of the above chances are that the body the murderer thought they buried safely with no possible way of spotting is soon going to be discovered by a dog walker doing their routes. Another great use of modern day technology is aerial photography which can clearly give away a grave with the different shadows and compressions of the earth and the biodiversity growing on top. From the use of this it is becoming increasingly easy to spot any unmarked graves from modern murders or medieval cemeteries.
Soon the use of these practices will help progress the use of archaeology within the criminal science spectrum and make it impossible for an unmarked grave to go unnoticed putting more criminals away.