The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Operation Nightingale recently returned to Burrow Island – also known as ‘Rat Island’ – excavating more graves before they eroded into Portsmouth harbour (see CA 339 and 351). The cemetery on Rat Island is believed to have been used for convicts who were imprisoned on hulks moored in the harbour during the late 18th and early 19th century.
The latest work on the island has revealed the remains of a further 12 people, including an infant and possible woman. Previously, all of the other individuals recovered from the site have been identified as male, ranging in age from their late teens to early 60s. These new discoveries could indicate that the harsh treatment on these prison ships was not a punishment solely reserved for men, but further research on the remains will be needed to confirm the circumstances of their life, death, and burial.