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Putim Ossuary and the mystery of tricorn hat

3 min read

The Putim Ossuary, located the town of Putim, in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, is surrounded in folktale.
The small, unassuming building of a clay-brown hue, was first erected in 1741 and, hidden in a cemetery behind the town’s medieval St. Lawrence Church, it contains the skeletons of what are believed to be the remains of fallen soldiers from the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48).
Later, in 1829, a minister named Ondřej Zloch carefully laid out the collection of bones and skulls that you can still visit today.

Look inside, and you’ll see a wooden cross surrounded by piles upon piles of human bones.
According to folks in the nearby town of Pisek, the mystery of the ossuary is centered around a certain three-cornered army hat adorned with a feather.
Legend has it that for a long time, this tricorn hat was placed on one of the skulls but, whenever it was removed and placed elsewhere, the hat always reappeared back on the same head.
According to local witnesses, this tricorn hat, a (French military?) hat did indeed exist in the ossuary, and it can be seen in a photo of Vilém Munzar dating to 1915.
This arrangement from the beginning of the 20th century apparently caused the bones in the Putim ossuary to be spoken of today also as the remains of French troops from the Theresian wars of 1842.
However, it is not known that any battle was fought near Putim, or that there was a French infirmary at this time.
The battle of this time, known from the depiction of M. Alša on the facade of the Otava Hotel in Písek, is the Battle of Èížová on November 22, 1741. However, this is said to be at the level of a larger pub brawl, and the French who lost their lives during skirmishes around Písek, it was said that they were buried in ditches in the Písek monastery. Several graves, perhaps from this period, were accidentally found outside the cemetery in Putim, where Austrian troops were staying at the time.
Either way, the Putim Ossuary was featured in a poem by Czech poety Antonín Klášterský, titled “In the Putim Ossuary.”
In the poem, Klášterský contemplates the skulls of fallen French soldiers.

Images from web – Google Research