Have you ever heard of a church built with human skeletons? Sedlec Ossuary, otherwise known as Bone Church or ‘The Church of Bones’, is a Catholic chapel in the suburbs of Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic. It may not appear like your everyday Catholic chapel, though. However, it is actually, one of the most unusual and unique chapels you could hope to find.
Its nickname, ‘The Church of Bones’, or ‘Bone Church’, came about due to the fact that inside the chapel there are between 40,000 and 70,000 skeletons of people who died during the mid-14th century plague and in the subsequent Hussite Wars.
The various skeletons have all been artistically arranged into captivating formations. The bones have been crafted into creative sculptures, such as bell-shaped mounds and the Schwarzenberg’s coat of arms.
The Schwarzenberg’s were local aristocratic rulers at that time. But the most impressive of all the formations are the gigantic bone chandelier right at the centre of the church.
According to Radio Prague International, archaeologists who were carrying out research at the 14th Century Ossuary have announced a landmark discovery. While they were excavating the site, they came across 34 mass graves which housed a total of 1,200 skeletons.
Experts have stated that it is the largest find of its kind in Europe.
Since 2014 the Ossuary has been undergoing renovations, part of which is for archaeological and anthropological research purposes.
Frolik, a member of the research team, also remarked that this was the most significant discovery that they have ever made.
It was mentioned that they have been digging around the Ossuary since 2016 when the archaeological survey was launched and that the biggest find up until this point had been mass graves that housed the victims of a famine that happened in 1318 and victims of the plague in 1348.
Jan Frolik added, ‘It could be compared to the burial ground in East Smithfield in London, which has some 500 skeletons. We have discovered around 600 plague victims and 600 victims of famine, so altogether 1,200 skeletons.’
Recently they began a research inside the chapel as opposed to just the grounds outside and found even more mass graves.
Underneath the first pyramid they have found five more mass graves, which means that when the Ossuary was originally built, they had no idea that the graves were even there.
The church renovations have already cost around 45 million crowns and are projected to take approximately 10 years to complete.
Even though the archaeological and anthropological research is in its beginning stages, Jan Frolik says the recent findings have already unveiled a great deal about the population of Kutna Hora during that time. ‘They could be characterized as a mining population because there is a significant prevalence of men over women.
The good news for visitors is that despite the reconstructions and renovations, the Bone Church will remain open. However, some parts will be temporarily off-limits for safety reasons.