Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

The Charnel House of All Saints Church

What a gloomy morning it was, with the moors blanketed in clag. However, as the afternoon arrived, so did the sun, and I popped down to the village’s All Saints church to photograph its alleged charnel house.

I’ve posted about this remarkable church before, it proudly stands as the oldest structure in Great Ayton1‚ÄėCHURCH of ALL SAINTS, Great Ayton – 1150650 | Historic England‚Äô. 2023. Historicengland.org.uk <https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1150650?section=official-list-entry> [accessed 19 May 2023]. The nave dates to the 12th century, with an addition of a 13th-century porch. This porch served various purposes, acting as a welcoming space for rest, a venue for matrimonial unions, or even a site for churching‚ÄĒwhere women underwent ritual purification after childbirth2Wood, Eric S. “Historical Britain”. Page 316. 1997. The Harvill Press. ISBN 1 86046 2146..

Just below the blocked up window, a solid stone lintel marks the entrance to what is believed to have been a charnel house3Arkell, Roger, and David Taylor. 2012. All Saints Church <http://greatayton.wdfiles.com/local–files/churches/All-Saints-Church.pdf>. In times when the graveyard reached capacity, and further burials were required, this sombre place served as the repository for exhumed bones. Interestingly, charnel houses were not commonplace throughout England, making this feature all the more fascinating.


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