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Discovery of Human Remains on a Property

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Department of Historic Resources

The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) is the Commonwealth’s official historic preservation agency.

Agency Info

A permit from the Director of DHR is required for archaeological recovery of all human skeletal remains and associated artifacts from any unmarked grave, regardless of the age of the burial or archaeological site or ownership of the property. If the grave is part of a formally chartered cemetery, the recovery must also conform to the requirements of § 57-38.1 (“Proceedings by landowner for removal of remains from abandoned family graveyards”) and § 57-39 (“Proceedings for removal of remains and sale of land vacated.”). DHR’s application for a permit to allow the archaeological excavation of human remains was revised (January 9, 2015) to reflect changes to burial laws. The permit application form is available for use and can be downloaded as a PDF.

Need Help With This Service?

For additional help regarding this service, please contact the Department of Historic Resources.

For general help and information please contact:
Joanna Wilson Green
By phone at (804) 482-6098 
By email at

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