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“Winding Cloth” of Myles Standish

Wool cloth fragments (ca. 1656)
Gift of Mary Jane Wakefield, in memory of Kenneth Donald Wakefield, II (2007.64.1)  
Conservation funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Hale (2012)

The fragments of wool were recovered from the grave of Myles Standish who was buried in Duxbury’s Old Burying Ground in 1656.

Over the centuries, the exact location of Standish’s grave had been lost. However, Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” renewed interest in the historic figure. The over-grown graveyard was reclaimed in 1887, in part through the efforts of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society.

Two digs were attempted in 1889 and 1891 to identify the location of Standish’s remains. These fragments were retrieved from the grave during one of these digs.

The account of the donor was that the fragments were part of the winding cloth or shroud, which would have been used to prepare the body for burial. In 2012, the fragments were treated and rehoused by a professional Textiles Conservator, who concluded that while the cloth dates to the period of 1656, likely it was part of some wool clothing, and not a burial linen.