when they moved the Clifton Forge cemetery, some of the oldest, smallest remains were not claimed by

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Walking along one of the isles of Clifton Forge Public Records, a woman who works there tells Dr. Dreyfuss:
-- Welcome to Aisle 17, Doctor. Every archive has one, the lost-and-found of things people don't want to find. Twenty years ago, when they moved the Clifton Forge cemetery, some of the oldest, smallest remains were not claimed by their relatives. They were sent here to be filed. I'm not a religious person, but I do believe there's a place for human remains, and it's not on a shelf in a government building.
Mama, movie

I'm not sure what the phrase in bold means.
1. Who does the "they" refer to?
2. And those remains were not claimed from where?
Thanks.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    1. When they moved the cemetery: This "they" must refer to the local authority. Presumably the area where the old cemetery had been was required for some kind of development (perhaps they were going to build a highway or an airport or something), and since you can't just build on top of a cemetery, it had to be relocated, and all the remains with it.

    2. As part of the relocation procedure, the relatives of the people who had been interred in the old cemetery will have been notified of what was about to happen. They could then "claim" the remains in case they wanted to re-bury them somewhere other than where the replacement cemetery was going to be. Here "claim" just means to come forward and demonstrate to the authority that they are the rightful "owners" of their relatives' remains.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    1. 'They' are whoever decided to move the cemetery somewhere, presumably the local authorities.
    2. 'Where' doesn't come into it: here 'claim' means to say that something belongs to you, i.e. you say that those bones belong to one of your ancestors.
     
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