A Curious Invitation present London Month of the Dead
THE BONES OF THE DEAD - Ossuaries in Europe
A Live, Illustrated Zoom Talk with the Human Remains Conservator for Surgeons’ Hall, Cat Irving
Tuesday 11th October 2022 at 7:00 pm

The ossuary is a standard feature in any culture needing to do a Marie Kondo on the skeletal remains of its dead. Graveyards are the traditional resting place for the bodies of the recently deceased, who still have grieving relatives to remember them and to tend to their graves. But our bones are the most enduring parts of our mortal remains. What happens to them once those relatives have gone to the cemetery themselves and burial space is starting to run short? Whatever is society to do with all those surplus tibias and fibulas?

Ossuaries - or bone banks - are known to have existed as far back as ancient Persia over 3000 years ago and have been unearthed in many civilisations. But how should we view them today: as practical storage solutions, objects of curiosity or an important way for us to interact with the dead and contemplate our own mortality?

In this talk, Cat Irving will take you on a journey across Europe that will encompass painted skulls and bejewelled skeletons, bone chandeliers and the six million people who lie beneath the streets of Paris.

Tickets £5 including a 20% donation toward a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

Cat Irving
Cat Irving has been the Human Remains Conservator for Surgeons’ Hall since 2015 and has been caring for anatomical and pathological museum collections for nearly twenty years. After a degree in Anatomical Science she began removing brains and sewing up bodies at the Edinburgh City Mortuary. Following training in the care of wet tissue collections at the Royal College of Surgeons of England she worked with the preparations of William Hunter at the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University. Her latest accomplishments include cleaning the skeletal remains of the notorious 19th century serial killer William Burke.

PLEASE NOTE - This talk will take place virtually via Zoom. Ticket sales will end at 5:00 pm BST on the day of the lecture. A link to the conference will be sent to the email used at checkout at 3:00 pm BST on the day of the event. Please email suzette@acuriousinvitation.com in the event your link fails to arrive. Please note this talk will be recorded and can be sent free of charge to ticket holders by request.

Image Credit - Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome: skulls and skeletons of the friars arranged in arches and columns around the walls of the Convento dei Cappuccini. Public Domain courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.