Saint Hilaire Ossuary is in Marville, France and home to about 40,000 skulls. It was constructed towards the end of the 15th Century and many of the skulls in boxes seem to be those of the men and women of Marville who died around 1780-1860.
It seems that during 1890 the cemetery keeper, Constant Motsch, decided that in order to make more space in the cemetery he would dig up older graves with no perpetual concession (Permanent claim to the grave site). He kept the skulls and longer bones and put the commoners in boxes, keeping the lords and gentry aside. The skulls look out of their boxes and some have unfortunately weathered over the long years. Above their heads reads “we were like you – you will become one of us”.
The cemetery is one of the oldest ones in France and is situated on an old Roman temple dedicated to Mars. It served as the parish church until village residents found it to be too long a walk, a new construct was made closer by. The cemetery however stayed in use from the 15th to 18th century.
The entrance to the cemetery has a crucifix called Christ of the Lepers and within the grounds is a Pieta decided to their suffering.