The basement of skeletons, St Leonards Church, Hythe

Usually skeletons are 6ft underground with no chance of ever being seen again. So when we visited St Leonards Church, it was quite strange to see hundreds of them on display, in the basement. Even more strange, is that no one is really certain where they came from. There are a few theories floating around, such as a pirate battle, the plague and other disease epidemics. But the theory that holds the most weight, is that graves needed to be moved to expand the church, and instead of burying them again, they were kept in the basement. However, seeing as the bones are estimated to be over 700 years old, it’s questionable whether these bodies all came from Hythe. Britain now has a booming population but back then its doubtful there were even that many people living there and in the surrounding area. So we’re never going to be 100% sure of their origin!There are 1022 skulls held here which are thought to be mostly European. With quite a few of the skulls you can see the likely cause of the person’s death. Some more clearer than others, as you can see below.There were also a lot of bones victim to cribra orbitalia. This is likely due from poor diet or infection and shows up with small prickles across the bones.It’s not all doom and gloom though, the skulls aren’t just hosts to the speculations of death. Now home to hundreds of spiders and the occasional family of birds, life seems to of formed itself around death here.This display is an oddly fascinating tourist attraction and one I had no idea about, until we were passing through on our way back to Bristol from Amsterdam. Perfect to get you in the Halloween mood and break up a long journey.

20 thoughts on “The basement of skeletons, St Leonards Church, Hythe

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  1. As you described it in your first sentences, I pictured an empty vault with hundreds of skeletons on the floor, as if a mass of humanity had been buried alive years ago. But the way the bones are displayed – so neat and tidy like cords of wood – is even more captivating. I expect skeletons wouldn’t remain ‘intact” after so many years anyway, simply decomposing into piles of bones. Fascinating – thanks for sharing.

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  2. There is something similar in a town in Portugal, called Evora – a chapel built with human skulls and bones. The reasons of its existence are quite simple – after a long period of disease and death, graveyards were too full. So the monks in the region decided to collect the bones and build a place of worship, reminded us all of where we’ll all end up. It’s quite grim, but I absolutely loved it ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Not a place I was previously aware of. Definitely somewhere I’ll have to keep in mind whenever I’m in the area, looks interesting.

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  4. Emily,

    No bones about it, that looks like a morbidly fun adventure.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    On Sun, Oct 13, 2019 at 8:37 PM The Blog of Travel wrote:

    > Emily posted: “Usually skeletons are 6ft underground with no chance of > ever being seen again. So when we visited St Leonards Church, it was quite > strange to see hundreds of them on display, in the basement. Even more > strange, is that no one is really certain where they ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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