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St Leonard's Church, Hythe

St Leonard’s Church in Hythe has the largest and best-preserved collection of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain. The collection of over 1,000 skulls is arranged on shelves in four arched bays; the ossuary also contains a single large stack of mainly thigh-bones and some additional skulls.

Many theories have been put forward over the years as to who these people were. The general consensus now is that the remains are those of many generations of Hythe residents who had been buried in the churchyard (evidenced by the deposits of soil within the skulls) and were dug up originally in the 13th century.

During the last few years the skulls and bones have been the subject of scientific research and study using the latest forensic analysis and measurement techniques. The results provide interesting new knowledge about the lifestyle of the people concerned and are overturning some long-held arguments as to the reasons for the cause of death of particular individuals, through evidence from their bones and skulls.

Facilities

  • Guided tours
  • Groups welcome