The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project: The Digital Ossuary

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project, a community-engaged project, launches its new web site and Digital Ossuary!

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project is a multidisciplinary, community-engaged investigation of the charnel chapel situated beneath Rothwell Parish Church. Constructed during the 13th century for the purpose of housing disinterred human skeletal remains, the Rothwell chapel is the most complete surviving example of a charnel chapel with skeletal material remaining in situ.

This project provides the research basis for a large-scale community initiative between the University (staff and students) and local stakeholders involving the production of learning/teaching resources, outreach activities and collaborative research between the University and local people. This collaboration will be strongly research-led and involve written publications in both academic journals and local media, group activities and online engagement via social networking.

The Digital Ossuary

With the help of the Digital Humanities Exploration Fund,  the Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project has created 'The Digital Ossuary' (left). As the first 3D model of the Rothwell Charnel Chapel, this work has made a significant contribution to meeting the four principle aims of the project:

  1. To promote ongoing analysis of the largely unstudied remains by digitally recording the charnel deposits.
  2. To digitally capture the spatial arrangements within the chapel in order to enhance interpretation of the manner in which the ossuary was utilized.
  3. To allow the public to experience this largely inaccessible heritage resource in a sustainable way.
  4. To contribute to the preservation of the ossuary through in situ digital recording of its features.

The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Online

We are also celebrating the launch of ‘The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Online’ website, which is funded by the Engaged Curriculum Fund.

The website is an online, interactive resource created to present, disseminate and invite future participation in the Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project.

As such, it has two key audiences: students in the Archaeology Department, for whom the site will form an engaged research case study and a place to disseminate their own research on the charnel chapel; and Rothwell community members and the general public, to whom we would like to disseminate our research in an easily-accessible manner.

The website and was launched at an event on Sat 19th March attended by our main collaborators, members of the Church, and general public.

Skulls at Rothwell Charnel Chapel