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    Naturevolume 135pages925926 (1935) | Download Citation



    Human Skeletons at Hythe The skulls and long bones preserved in the ossuary of the church of St. Leonard at Hythe, which were examined by Prof. F. G. Parsons nearly thirty years ago, have been subjected to further study by Dr. G. M. Morant and Miss Stoessiger. As a supplement to their report, which appeared in Biometrika, 24, 1932, Dr. Morant has now published a general account of the origin, history and character of the collection so far as his research has carried him (”The History of the Human Skeletons preserved in the Ossuary of the Church of St. Leonard, Hythe.” F. J. Parsons, Ltd. Pp. 41. Is. 6d.). The place of their storage is neither crypt nor charnel-house, but a passage-way under the chancel, made when the church was enlarged in the early thirteenth century, to serve as part of the processional path. On the basis of the thigh-bones, the number of individuals represented is at least 4,000. Popular tradition attributes them to those slain in a battle fought in 456 A.D. between Britons and Saxons, or to Danes who landed in 843, or to French who raided the coast in 1295. An examination of the bones shows that they consist of an almost equal number of male and female and vary widely in range of age, children alone not being present. It is concluded that they are the remains of inhabitants of the parish, extending over a considerable period of time, placed in the church for safe keeping after inhumation. Anthropologically they present peculiar characteristics, for which the only known parallel in the British Isles is found in the skeletal remains of indeterminate age from Spitalfields in London, which were brought to light at the extension of the Fruit Market in 1926. This Spitalfields series bears a close resemblance to a series from Pompeii and to another of Etruscans of the Roman period from north Italy. Not only does the Hythe type resemble that of Spitalfields closely, but it is also closely allied to modern series from Bologna, Czechoslovakia and Rumania. The Spitalfields people were probably Roman inhabitants of London of Italian origin and it is, therefore, probable that the Hythe people are descendants of foreigners who settled in the locality in Roman times.

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