The crypt at St Leonard’s is a very mysterious place, over 2,000 skulls on display either shelved or as part of a giant pile of skulls and thigh bones. No-one has been able to confirm exactly when the bones were first displayed in this manner of even why. However, what is known from recorded history is that the skulls have been on show for at least the last 400 years!
A bird nesting in one of the skulls. Luckily after death!
This pile is made up of around 1,000 skulls and 8,000 thigh bones. Theory suggests that the bones were put on display to travelling Pilgrims from the close proximity to the port town of Dover. A macabre shrine / tourist attraction on the way to Cantebury.
This poor fellow died of a sword wound; interestingly you can see how the skull has tried to heal leading to the growth in the around the wound.
Some of these skulls are over 700 years old. It has been assumed that these were mostly found in unmarked graves from the church graveyard, which due to space restrictions did not have gravestones. It was a common occurrence to find skeletons whilst digging a new grave. Why not put it on display?!
A example of a bone tumour – not necessarily the cause of death.
It’s a good job the rest of the church isn’t so dreary!
Credit to Jack F Barker for producing a guidebook explaining the small amount that is actually known about the crypt.
As one of only two ossuaries in the UK I highly recommend a visit: http://www.stleonardschurchhythekent.org/thecrypt.html.
The ruins of this temple in the Amman citadel complex once held a statute of the hero of Greek mythology, Hercules. Built between 162-166 CE scientists have not been able to accurately determine how tall he actually was!
The road to Umayyad Palace
Name drop ‘Alexander the great’ founded this place; as an ancient greek city you’d think you were in Athens rather than 30 miles north of the modern day capital of Jordan.
Jerash thrived during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods which is evidenced by the expansive ruins which remain. Despite the 749 Galilee earthquake destroying large parts of Jerash a significant portion of the site remains.
What remains of the old market place.
The Jerash nymphaeum.
The temple of Artemis
Artemis is known as the hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women! Built in CE 150 this was once the most important temple of Jerash but was later turned into a fortress and mostly destroyed by a great fire.
Petra has to be visited to be truly appreciated. One of the new seven wonders of the world and it really deserves its place. The complex named Petra is vast and has so much to explore; after spending over 6 hours and walking somewhere in the region of 30km there was still so much to see.
Al Khazneh or The Treasury
Originally built as a mausoleum and crypt at the beginning of the 1st century AD. Its Arabic name Treasury derives from one legend that bandits or pirates hid their loot in a stone urn high on the second level.
Visiting the Treasury at night is a captivating experience; a candle lit walk through the Siq leads you to the base of the structure softly illuminated by hundreds of small candle lit lamps. This is the only time I saw more than a handful of tourists in one place!
The Royal Tombs (incl The Palace Tomb)
A stretch of tombs and burial chambers line the North eastern edge of Petra.
Hopefully this may give an impression of the scale of the city of Petra; this is just one small part.
Ad Deir or The Monastery
Built by the Nabataeans in the 1st century and measuring 50 metres (160 ft) wide by approximately 45 metres (148 ft) high.
The climb to reach this ruin snakes up the mountainside covering somewhere close to 900 steps. After avoiding the numerous Bedouins trying to rip-off the tourists selling trinkets and donkey rides you turn a corner to witness this tremendous site.
Many people think its an eyesore, others love the geometry. Brutalism is a form of architecture that started in the mid-1950s characterised by its raw concrete exterior and repeated modular elements forming a unified structure.
One of the most famous examples is the Barbican development.
Another prime example of this style can be found along the Southbank, the sprawling complex of the National Theatre and Southbank Centre.
Famed for being one of the most hideous examples and also now left to rot after being found full asbestos. Robin Hood Gardens.
Abbeyfield Road, Bermondsey.
Pripyat was home to around 50,000 residents when the Chernobyl reactor exploded on the 26 April 1986 causing radiation levels in the town to skyrocket to 200,000 times normal. The evacuation order wasn’t given until 14:00 on 27 April 1986 leaving the residents exposed to deadly levels of radiation. Told to pack for 3 days the residents had no idea they would never be returning….
What is now left of the town is an urban exploration dream; a whole town abandoned and left to rot. All that is needed is a permit from the Ukrainian government and you’re in. Current day radiation levels are fairly safe in most parts of the town not exposing you to any higher levels of radiation than you would receive on a transatlantic flight.
I spent two days on a guided tour where we were shown the highlights and given freedom to explore all sorts of parts of the town.
We weren’t officially supposed to be up here; a 15 minute pit stop gave us enough time to sprint to the roof of the hotel in Pripyat town square.
The recreation centre; amazingly the stained glass hasn’t been broken.
The hospital waiting room.
Time to take your seat..
Out of tune.
One of many abandoned apartment blocks. These places have been totally looted. Its crazy considering the amount of possessions that would have been left behind after being told you were only going to be gone 3 days
View over Pripyat to Chernobyl
Public Swimming pool
Schools out for…..ever!
Time for sports.
Once an orphanage, then a Nursing School and now left to rot since the 1990s after plans for a pedophile rehab centre were rejected.
The security around this place looked tight with CCTV on all angles and a large spiked fence…this proved easier than expected to slip through the front gate.
The extent of the security was soon dismissed once we found the control room! Weirdly all the power was still on.
The impressive foyer/hallway reminded me of the Resident Evil mansion!
4 floors to explore including the roof.
Retro metal grilled lift shaft leading to a brand new looking generator room.
There were a lot of toilets…this by far was the weirdest
Before I purchased a DSLR my Dad gifted me his old manual camera an Olympus OM-20 which he hadn’t used since he switched to digital many years ago. It was still in perfect working order and was my first real taste of manual photography which got me interested in developing this skill.
Various sources told me that B&W film was the most forgiving for a first timer so I loaded my self with an ISO400 film and set off on a few adventures.
The aim of this trip was to explore some of the old abandoned military forts on the coast near Sheerness and attempt to find the rare Yellow Tailed Scorpions (which apparently glow in the dark) which can only be found on one particular wall in this small town.
The scorpion hunt failed miserably but we managed to explore an old military base complete with underground chambers containing long forgotten machinery.
This was a little bit too serious for our taste:
Abandoned Power Station.
Unlike Sheerness there was only one aim of this trip to find an entry into the desolate power station, explore and document what remained. After a brief escapade around a live cargo shipyard (MGS style minus the cardboard box) we realised “There must be a better way” this led us to finding a patch to climb over the fence and make our way inside.
What greeted us was a treasure trove; A room full on engineer blueprints, a central control room, the finance area complete with fireproof safe (still locked!) and more. One room was even full of possessions which made us think that someone must have been squatting here in the past although strange that they appeared to have had everything they owned on them (family albums, girls dolls, random assortment of books).
A map teased us with the possibility of an underground tunnel which we knew from prior research lead under the Thames however it appeared the owners had got there before us as it was heavily blocked and would have needed at the least a sledgehammer to get us through and this wasn’t high on out equipment list wanting to travel light and avoid any damage to what remained. Maybe next time……