207 Views – 03 Feb 2012
There are some 2000 skulls in the Bonehouse of St Leonard’s Church, mainly arranged on shelves so you can get a good look at them – like the faces of the living they have their own characteristics and expressions.
It was long believed they were foreign soldiers killed in a great battle, but there is now a general consensus that they were citizens of Hythe who died over a long span of years, were buried in the churchyard (many of the skulls were found to contain soil), then dug up in the 13th Century when the church was extended eastwards over their graves by the addition of the great chancel. Later, other bones disturbed when new graves were dug may have been added to the pile, and some may even have been brought in from other churchyards in Hythe when these fell out of use and were disposed of.
Since there were only 20 or 30 burials a year in medieval times, and not all of them in the area of the new chancel, it must have taken perhaps 200 years or more to accumulate this number of bones, so some of these remains belonged to people who lived in the first millennium, and who had been buried for many years already before being moved.
Captured with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38