A church in Kent has literally more skeletons in its cupboards than any other in England.
The ossuary in St Leonard’s church in Hythe houses bones and skulls that were dug up from local graveyards around 700 years ago, possibly to clear space for the vast numbers of people who perished during the Black Death.
Shaun Williamson finds out about the different theories as to why such a large collection of skeletons is housed in the ossuary.
He also finds out what the bones tell us about the lives and deaths of our ancestors.
Great little video from the BBC on one of the few surviving ossuaries in the UK.
Genetically determined morphological integration directs the evolution of skull shape in humans. The study is based on the analysis of 390 skulls, decorated according to local tradition, from the ossuary in Hallstatt, Austria which houses an exceptionally valuable collection for anthropological research.
The more than 700 items of skeletal remains are famous for their painted decoration, depicting flowers, leaves and crosses, with the name of the deceased printed on the forehead of most of the skulls. By cross-referencing with local registers of births, deaths and marriages, experts have been able to use the collection to reconstruct the genealogical relationships of the population from as far back as the 17th century and make informed estimates of the influence of genes on skull shape.
Fascinating stuff! Click the link to read more…