Skip to main content


1. Building (sometimes purpose-built), crypt, ossuary, or vault where the bones of disinterred dead are stored as new graves are required in a churchyard. Once very common in medieval England, charnel-houses became less usual from C16 as religious practices concerned with the dead changed with the Reformation, although a three-bay charnel-house of brick with stone dressings was built at the end of C17 in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Deptford Green, London. Charnel-houses may be found on the Continent today, especially where burial-space is limited, as in Alpine churchyards, and several decorative charnel-houses exist, where walls and ceilings are covered with bones arranged in patterns (e.g. Capuchin Church, Rome).

2. Place of deposit for dead bodies which dry out in certain conditions, as in Palermo, Sicily.


Ariès (1981);
Litten (1991)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"charnel-house." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . 22 Apr. 2019 <>.

"charnel-house." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . (April 22, 2019).

"charnel-house." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Retrieved April 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.