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Wall made of human bones and skulls dating back 500 years ago is found in a Belgian cathedral

A horrible scene has been discovered in a Belgian cathedral – a wall made entirely of human bones.

The 500-year-old dividing wall was uncovered in Saint-Bavo in the city of Ghent, which is built from femurs and shins of adults, with skulls placed in spaces of the structure.

Experts believe that the bones were removed from the cemetery outside the church to make room for new graves and because skeletal remains could not be thrown away, they were used again as a wall in the church.

The cathedral was built in the 17th century, but archaeologists believe that the bones were already 200 years old when they were used as building materials.

A horrible scene has been discovered in a Belgian cathedral - a wall made entirely of human bones

A horrible scene has been discovered in a Belgian cathedral – a wall made entirely of human bones

Project leader Janiek De Gryse told Brussels Times: “This is a phenomenon that we have not yet encountered here.”

“When cleaning up a cemetery, the skeletons cannot just be thrown away.”

“Given that believers believed in a resurrection of the body, the bones were considered the most important part.”

“That is why stone houses were sometimes built against the walls of city cemeteries: to house skulls and long bones in what is called an ossuary.”

Saint-Bavo was built on the site of the former chapel of St. John the Baptist that was built in 942 – construction of the Gothic church began in 1274.

Experts believe that the bones were removed from the cemetery outside the church to make room for new graves and because skeletal remains could not be thrown away, they were reused as a wall in the church

Experts believe that the bones were removed from the cemetery outside the church to make room for new graves and because skeletal remains could not be thrown away, they were reused as a wall in the church

Experts believe that the bones were removed from the cemetery outside the church to make room for new graves and because skeletal remains could not be thrown away, they were reused as a wall in the church

The 500-year-old dividing wall was uncovered in Saint-Bavo in the city of Ghent, which is built from femurs and shins of adults, with skulls placed in spaces of the structure.

The 500-year-old dividing wall was uncovered in Saint-Bavo in the city of Ghent, which is built from femurs and shins of adults, with skulls placed in spaces of the structure.

The 500-year-old dividing wall was uncovered in Saint-Bavo in the city of Ghent, which is built from femurs and shins of adults, with skulls placed in spaces of the structure.

In the summer of 1556, groups of Calvinist iconoclasts visited Catholic churches in the Netherlands, destroying stained glass windows, destroying statues, and destroying paintings and other works of art that they view as idolatrous.

Although horrific, the wall at Saint-Bavo is nothing compared to what was discovered in a small church in Kent – one of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain.

The collection contains more than 1,000 skulls on the shelves in four arched bays and a single pile of bones is more than 1.8 m high.

The morbid crypt is housed in St Leonard’s Church, Hythe, Kent.

Photographer Darragh Field visited the collection in June last year and took beautiful pictures.

Saint-Bavo (photo) was built on the site of the former chapel of St. John the Baptist that was built in 942 - construction of the Gothic church began in 1274

Saint-Bavo (photo) was built on the site of the former chapel of St. John the Baptist that was built in 942 - construction of the Gothic church began in 1274

Saint-Bavo (photo) was built on the site of the former chapel of St. John the Baptist that was built in 942 – construction of the Gothic church began in 1274

He said: “It is the best collection of old bones and skulls in the country and one of only two ossuaries in the UK, so I had to go and see for myself.

“The bones were supposed to be the remains of those who fell during the Battle of Hastings, but they turn out to be locals from the 13th to 15th centuries.

“The remains are mostly feminine with only a few skulls showing signs of trauma through strokes.”

Although it is impossible to estimate the number of bones in the collection, recent work has suggested that the total number of people in the stack is approximately 2,000.

Although horrible, the wall in Saint-Bavo is nothing compared to what was discovered in a small church in Kent - one of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain (photo)

Although horrible, the wall in Saint-Bavo is nothing compared to what was discovered in a small church in Kent - one of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain (photo)

Although horrible, the wall in Saint-Bavo is nothing compared to what was discovered in a small church in Kent – one of the largest and best-preserved collections of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain (photo)

Some of the skulls indicate fractures and injuries, while others have evidence of illness due to deficiencies and infections.

Despite the macabre setting, the photographer found the atmosphere soothing.

He said: ‘It felt serene and peaceful, it is very atmospheric and very well maintained, a real hidden gem.

“There is no doubt that looking at a wall of human skulls is not your daily experience, but this did not feel sad or oppressive because these people usually died of natural causes.”

In an ironic twist, one of the skulls had signs of life after death.

Mr. Field said, “The best surprise I got from the crypt was to see a bird nest in one of the skulls!”

The collection is comparable to the Fontanelle cemetery in Naples, which was used as a mass grave for victims of the 1656 plague.

Visitors bring gifts for the bones – some believe they make a connection between the living and the dead – and ask for favors in return.

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