Former councillor Sheila Ireland at the Ipswich General Cemetery where the lost crypt of Joseph Fleming was discovered.
Former councillor Sheila Ireland at the Ipswich General Cemetery where the lost crypt of Joseph Fleming was discovered. Hayden Johnson

Digger moves in to excavate politician's crypt at cemetery

STATE secrets belonging to one of Queensland's first politicians could soon be uncovered as digging starts at Ipswich General Cemetery.

Ipswich City Council, in partnership with the University of Southern Queensland, has started the archaeological dig on the crypt of Joseph Fleming, a member of Queensland's first parliament.

It is the resting place of Mr Fleming and his wife Phoebe.

Mr Fleming represented West Moreton from July 1860 until November 1862 and again from September 1866 until July 1867.

USQ Professor Bryce Barker and council staff have supervised the dig, which began this week with a small excavator and will then progress to archaeology students who will use small tools to scrape away dirt.

Ground-penetrating radar pinpointed the site and digging started after preparation work.

"We will gently take off the topsoil and come down on the core features, on the collapsed part of the top of the crypt,” Professor Barker said.

"We want to come down on a wall that is still intact to some extent, follow that along with our excavation and find a right angle at the end.”

The crypt will be excavated, human remains removed, the crypt rebuilt and then backfilled with the Flemings' remains.

A documentary will be filmed and a virtual reality tour of the crypt produced.