Walking past a seemingly unremarkable street, bordered on one side by a concreted and overgrown vacant plot, I noticed a small group of people looking intently at something within. My curiosity piqued, I decided to investigate.
It turns out this abandoned bit of land was an unconsecrated graveyard called the ‘Cross Bones Graveyard‘, used during medieval times for the burial of ‘Winchester Geese’ – prostitutes. The iron gate has been turned into a memorial shrine by local residents and is decorated with a profusion of ribbon, plastic flowers, cards, notes and other paraphernalia. To one side, I found these figurines. They were, to me, the most poignant memorial to the buried souls: anonymous, ghostly figures providing a brief and tenuous connection to the harsh world they inhabited.
On the gate is a commemorative plaque, the words of which I’ve transcribed below. I’ve also included, at the foot of the post, an image that gives a better sense of the context of the site (click it to view larger). And, there is even a website dedicated to the graveyard.
Cross Bones Graveyard
In medieval times this was an unconsecrated graveyard for the prostitues or ‘Winchester Geese’. By the 18th century, it had become a paupers’ burial ground, which closed in 1853. Here, local people have created a memorial shrine.
The Outcast Dead R.I.P