Entering The Chase Vault
search for the Chase Vault took me to the Christ Church cemetery in the town
of Oistin. In my visit, I was especially interested in critiquing the flooding
scenario by having a look at the site's topography. A church employee was present
who knew little of the details, but for the vault's location and the information
that was displayed on some info sheets posted next to the church doors. The
vault wasvery conveniently located next to the front wall of the cemetery that
bordered the parking lot. We were the only people there. Apparently, the Chase
Vault was not a major tourist stop.
As I approached the vault, I saw "The
Chase Vault" chiseled in the stone above the door.Below
the inscription was a significantlyweathered pictograph, which could have been
a family crest. The vault was a mostly underground structure of coral blocks
with only about 2 feet above ground level. Several steps led down to the vault
doorway where a somewhat bent iron gate was ajar. Past that I couldn't
see much due to the darkness. I became reminded of the old B horror movies,
and for a few moments, I felt apprehensive; especially after my wife screamed
"NO!!!, for God's sake, don't go in." As I entered the vault
and my eyes adjusted, I found I was in a small arched room approximately 12
ft by 6-1/2 ft.The
height of the vault at the top of the arch was at least 6-1/2 ft., if not somewhat
higher. The back wall was constructed of rock and mortar; the side walls from
the floor across thearched ceiling wereofbrick and mortar. The floor appeared
to be the same type of stone as the outside of the vault. Inside was only someleaves and a few roots growing down the back wall. Soon my wife was looking
down the steps into the vault wondering if I was still OK.
When I returned to the daylight, I surveyed the surroundings with respect to the flooding scenario. The church was situated on a stretch of level ground that overlooked the Oistin's Bay. The location was at least 100ft above and a mile back from the shore line, thus ruling out flooding from the sea . About a quarter mile behind the church grounds the terrain became somewhat hilly, but there were no terrain characteristics that would direct runoff specifically to the vault. In short, I saw nothing that would indicate flooding from above ground. So, what about an underground water source?...such as a spring. The scenario would be a spring that intermittantly flows, allowing water level to slowly rise and fall. I believe this could leave the sandy floor undisturbed and leave no water marks on the wall. After some further research into the geologic characteristics of Barbados, I found some support for this scenario, related to the fact that Barbados is primarily composed of very porous coral limestone. It's so porous, in fact, that there are no surface streams on Barbados and rain permeation has resulted in the formation of many subterranean passages and caves. An intermittent spring located under the Chase Vault could have caused the flooding. Or a subterranean passage could have directed run-off water to the vault and then slowly permitted its recedance.
Other thoughts about the Chase Vault
Since the vault floor dimensions were 12 ft by 6-1/2 ft, it would be nearly impossible for the adult coffins to horizontally rotate 180 degrees within that space. The coffins would have had more space to rotate vertically. This would also explain why several coffins were found upside down, as well as with their head facing opposite from the original position.
That the "moving forces" did not affect the first (1808) wood coffin has been used to discredit the flooding theory. However, of the 7 openings, the condition of the first wood coffin was only mentioned at the Combermere opening. On the other hand, while the first wood coffin was reported to have not moved by both eyewitness accounts of the 1820 Combermere inspection, they disagree as to the condition of the recently interned (1819) wood coffin. It seems curious that so many reports would not mention a non-moving wood coffin if that was the case.
Thirdly, other reports had stated
the vault was all but 2 feet above ground, thus making it improbable for
flood waters to exceed 2 feet in the vault. Two feet of water would have
barely reached the top-level coffins and could not have accounted for their
movement by flotation. The Chase Vault as I found it was all but 2 feet
underground. A flooding of the vault at the present ground level
would easily reached all coffins.
Unless noted, all information in this article has been taken either from personal observation or the 1964 edition of Rupert T. Gould's book, "Oddities - A Book of Unexplained Facts", written by Gould in 1928. This book is currently available from Amazon.com.
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