Legend of the Field Stones in Old Bethel Cemetery: Using Archaeology to Explore Social Memory

Tara Marie Giuliano

           This thesis examined how a legend from the area around Crestview, Florida, permeated local society and became a social memory. The legend suggests that after a Civil War skirmish on the Yellow River, soldiers who died were buried in a mass grave in Old Bethel Cemetery and some believe, marked with a circle of coarse sandstone field stones. To explore the relationship between the field stones and the social memory, as well as the relationship between the social memory and the physical site of the field stones, oral history interviews, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and test excavations were conducted during the summer and fall of 2011. Using these methods to explore social memory, the goals of the project were not to prove or disprove the historical accuracy of the legend of the field stones story, but to explore how memory is grounded in a community through objects and place, as well as how a community's social memory became a part of their heritage and identity.