By Joshua Gill
Unidentified thieves broke into an English church’s crypt and stole 21 human skulls, each about 700 years old, sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
The thieves stole the skulls from the ossuary in St. Leonard’s Church, an Anglican church, in Hythe, Kent, which the Anglican diocese of Canterbury said holds the “largest and best-preserved collection of ancient human skulls and bones in Britain.” Police issued a statement, in response to the theft, from Reverend Andrew Sweeney, who called the crime “shocking and unsettling.”
“Each skull represents the mortal remains of a human being who deserves to rest in peace,” Sweeney added, according to the Daily Mail.
Officers have asked for anyone with knowledge of the theft, or anyone who has recently been offered a human skull for sale, to contact the police.
St. Leonard’s, known to some as the “church with the bones,” houses a total of 1,022 skulls as well as other human bones representing a total of 2,000 people, according to the church. Scholars surmise that the bones are the remains of Hythe residents who were buried on the church grounds as early as the 13th century.
Inspector Maxine Harris emphasized that the skulls are “not free for the taking.”
“They are part of an important collection,” Harris said, according to the Daily Mail. “We are keen to see them back in their rightful place in the crypt.”
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