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The Bone Crypt – Investigating Rothwell’s Biggest Mystery

Continuing on with our theme on great things to do and visit in and around Northamptonshire, the Rothwell Bone Crypt deserves a special mention.

With numerous theories circulated over the years, the crypt can be found deep under the floors of the Holy Trinity Church.

Containing over 1,500 remains, it was initially believed that the remains first buried in the cemetery before being moved to below the Church floors at a later date. Whilst there is a mixture of bones, majority of the bones consist of skulls and thigh bones which according to Medieval superstition, was vital for the Resurrection.

Legend has it that the crypt was discovered around 1700 by grave digger who found himself falling through one of the windows into the crypt. Believed to be early 13th Century, the Rothwell crypt is one of only two of its kind in the UK, making the trip down to Rothwell even more special.

Over the years, there have been many theories surrounding the crypt, all of which have already been debunked:

  • Danes slain by the Saxons in a battle
  • Bones of soldiers killed at Naseby Battlefield or at Bosworth Battlefield
  • Monastic burial place
  • Victims of a plague epidemic

Whilst we can only assume the above are incorrect, it is fair to state that the battlefield theories are redundant due to the fact the the bones do not reflect common injuries sustained in battle. However, there does appear to be indication of damage caused by the Sexton’s mattock.

The monastic burial place theory, whilst might sound feasible, experts have argued the sheer size of the remains indicate the crypt cannot be used for this purpose.

The final theory – plague victims – cannot be feasible as not only can the plague bacillus still be active but if this were the case, rest assured, the crypt won’t be open to the public.

Most recently, the University of Sheffield discovered some of the bones dates back to the 1900s, again, disputing the crypt to be of medieval origin only.

Even though the thought of visiting the crypt might be a little scary for some, it really is a must see place full of history and heritage.

One of the many reasons we love working in Northamptonshire, especially the beautiful village of Rothwell.