Cemetery

Cemetery

Overview

A cemetery is a place in which dead
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 bodies
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 and cremated remains
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 are buried
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

. The term "cemetery" (from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 κοιμητήριον: sleeping place) implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 are where the final ceremonies of death are observed. These ceremonies or rite
Rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

s differ according to cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 practice and religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 belief.

The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 defines a cemetery as a "burial-ground generally; now esp.
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Encyclopedia

A cemetery is a place in which dead
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 bodies
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 and cremated remains
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 are buried
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

. The term "cemetery" (from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 κοιμητήριον: sleeping place) implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 are where the final ceremonies of death are observed. These ceremonies or rite
Rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

s differ according to cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 practice and religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 belief.

Definition


The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 defines a cemetery as a "burial-ground generally; now esp. a large public park or ground laid out expressly for the interment of the dead, and not being the ‘yard’ of any church. (Cemetery c)" and specifies that the term "...originally applied to the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 underground cemeteries or catacombs "
Cemeteries are normally distinct from churchyards, which are typically consecrated according to one denomination and are attached directly to a single place of worship.

Archaeology


Prehistoric cemeteries are sometimes referred to by the term 'grave field
Grave field
A grave field is a prehistoric cemetery, typically of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe.Grave fields are distinguished from necropoleis by the former's lack of above-ground structures, buildings, or grave markers.-Types:...

'. They are one of the chief sources of information on ancient and prehistoric cultures, and numerous archaeological culture
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

s are defined by their burial customs, such as the
Urnfield culture
Urnfield culture
The Urnfield culture was a late Bronze Age culture of central Europe. The name comes from the custom of cremating the dead and placing their ashes in urns which were then buried in fields...

 of the European Bronze Age.

Early Christian history


From about the 7th century, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an burial was under the control of the Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and could only take place on consecrated
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 church ground. Practices varied, but in continental Europe, bodies were usually buried in a mass grave
Mass grave
A mass grave is a grave containing multiple number of human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. There is no strict definition of the minimum number of bodies required to constitute a mass grave, although the United Nations defines a mass grave as a burial site which...

 until they had decomposed
Decomposition
Decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into simpler forms of matter. The process is essential for recycling the finite matter that occupies physical space in the biome. Bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death...

. The bones were then exhumed and stored in ossuaries
Ossuary
An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary...

, either along the arcaded
Arcade (architecture)
An arcade is a succession of arches, each counterthrusting the next, supported by columns or piers or a covered walk enclosed by a line of such arches on one or both sides. In warmer or wet climates, exterior arcades provide shelter for pedestrians....

 bounding walls of the cemetery, or within the church under floor slabs and behind walls.

In most cultures those who were vastly rich, had important profession
Profession
A profession is a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain....

s, were part of the nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 or were of any other high social status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

 were usually buried in individual crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

s inside or beneath the relevant place of worship
Place of worship
A place of worship or house of worship is an establishment or her location where a group of people comes to perform acts of religious study, honor, or devotion. The form and function of religious architecture has evolved over thousands of years for both changing beliefs and architectural style...

 with an indication of the name of the deceased, date of death and other biographical data. In Europe this was often accompanied with a depiction of their coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

.

Most others were buried in graveyard
Graveyard
A graveyard is any place set aside for long-term burial of the dead, with or without monuments such as headstones...

s again divided by social status. Families of the deceased who could afford the work of a stonemason had a headstone
Headstone
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

 carved and set up over the place of burial with an indication of the name of the deceased, date of death and sometimes other biographical data. Usually, the more writing and symbols carved on the headstone, the more expensive it was. As with most other human property such as houses and means of transport, richer families used to compete for the artistic value of their family headstone in comparison to others around it, sometimes adding a statue (such as a weeping angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

) on the top of the grave.

Those who could not pay for a headstone at all usually had some religious symbol made from wood on the place of burial such as a Christian cross
Christian cross
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity...

; however, this would quickly deteriorate under the rain or snow. Some families hired a blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

 and had large crosses made from various metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

s put on the place of burial.

Graveyards replaced by cemeteries



Various conditions in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century led to the burial of the dead in graveyards being discontinued. Among the reasons for this were:
  • A very sharp rise in the size of the population during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution
    Industrial Revolution
    The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

  • Continued outbreaks of highly infectious disease
    Infectious disease
    Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

    s in towns and cities due to lack of public hygiene. Many graveyards in cities were located on land enclosed within the city walls.
  • Limits to, and lack of, space in graveyards for new headstone
    Headstone
    A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

    s and corpses.
  • A growing resistance in existing churches to bury dead who had never attended their church despite being legally obliged to do so for any "parishioner".


As a consequence of these reasons, city authorities, national governments and places of worship all changed their regulations for burials. In many European states, burial in graveyards was outlawed altogether either by royal decrees or government legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

.

In some cases, skeleton
Skeleton
The skeleton is the body part that forms the supporting structure of an organism. There are two different skeletal types: the exoskeleton, which is the stable outer shell of an organism, and the endoskeleton, which forms the support structure inside the body.In a figurative sense, skeleton can...

s were exhumed from graveyards and moved into ossuaries
Ossuary
An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary...

 or catacombs
Catacombs
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire...

. A large action of this type occurred in 18th century Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 when human remains were transferred from graveyards all over the city to the Catacombs of Paris
Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are an underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate , the ossuary holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris' stone mines...

. The bones of an estimated 6 million people are to be found there.

However, in most places across Europe (as well as in larger cities in North America) completely new places of burial were established away from heavily populated areas and outside of old towns and city centers. Many new cemeteries became municipally owned or were run by their own corporations, and thus independent from churches and their churchyards. Nevertheless, even these were still segregated by the faith of the deceased to be buried there.

Thus, cemeteries (certainly in their modern landscaped or garden cemetery form), rather than graveyards, became the principal place of burial for the deceased and continue to this day. Wadi-us-Salaam
Wadi-us-Salaam
Wadi-us-Salaam is an Islamic cemetery, located in Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq. It is reputed to be the largest cemetery in the world. It is estimated more than half a million corpses are interred in the cemetery each year...

, located in Shiite holy city of Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

, Iraq, is reputed to be the largest cemetery in the world. It is estimated more than half a million corpses are interred in the cemetery each year.

Modern cemeteries


The earliest of the spacious landscaped-style cemeteries is Père Lachaise
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France , though there are larger cemeteries in the city's suburbs.Père Lachaise is in the 20th arrondissement, and is reputed to be the world's most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the...

 in Paris. This embodied the idea of state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

- rather than church-controlled burial – a concept that spread through Europe with the Napoleonic invasions
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, and sometimes became adapted leading to the opening of cemeteries by private companies. The shift to municipal cemeteries or those established by private companies was usually accompanied by the establishing of spacious, landscaped
Landscaping
Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including:# living elements, such as flora or fauna; or what is commonly referred to as gardening, the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a beautiful environment within the landscape.#...

, burial grounds outside of the city limits.

Cemeteries are usually a respected or protected area, and often include a crematorium
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 for the cremation of the dead. The violation of the graves
Desecration
Desecration is the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful or contemptuous treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual.-Detail:...

 or buildings is usually considered a very serious crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

, and punishments are often severe.

The style of cemeteries varies greatly internationally. For example, in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and many European countries, modern cemeteries usually have many tombstones
Headstone
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

 placed on open spaces. In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, tombstones are usually placed in small fenced family lots. (This was once common practice in American cemeteries as well, and such fenced family plots are still visible in some older American cemeteries.)

Usually, there is a legal requirement to maintain records regarding the burials (or interment of ashes) within a cemetery. These burial registers usually contain (at a minimum) the name of the person buried, the date of burial and the location of the burial within the cemetery, although some burial registers contain far more information about the deceased person. Burial registers are an important resource for genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

.

In order to physically manage the space within the cemetery (to avoid burials in existing graves) and to record locations in the burial register, most cemeteries have some systematic layout of graves in rows, generally grouped into larger sections as required. Often the cemetery displays this information in the form of a map
Map
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes....

, which is used both by the cemetery administration in managing their land use and also by friends and family members seeking to locate a particular grave within the cemetery.

Traditionally cemetery management only involves the allocation of land for burial, the digging and filling of graves, and the maintenance of the grounds and landscaping. The construction and maintenance of headstone
Headstone
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

s and other grave monuments is usually the private responsibility of families of the deceased. However, increasingly, many people regard the resultant collection of individual headstones, concrete slabs and fences (some of which may be decayed or damaged) to be aesthetically unappealing, leading to new cemetery developments either standardising the shape or design of headstones or plaques, sometimes by providing a standard shaped marker as part of the service provided by the cemetery. This has led to the development of new styles of cemetery.

Contemporary styles of cemetery



There are a number of different styles of cemetery in use. Many cemeteries have areas based on different styles, reflecting the diversity of cultural practices around death and how it changes over time.

Monumental cemetery


A monumental cemetery is the traditional style of cemetery where headstones or other monuments made of marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

, granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 or similar materials rise vertically above the ground (typically around 50 cm but some can be over 2 metres high). Often the entire grave is covered by a slab, commonly concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

, but it can be more expensive materials such as marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 or granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

, and/or has its boundaries delimited by a fence which may be made of concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

, cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 or timber
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

. Where a number of family members are buried together (either vertically or horizontally), the slab or boundaries may encompass a number of graves. Monumental cemeteries are often regarded as unsightly due to the random collection of monuments and headstones they contain. Also, as maintenance of the headstones is the responsibility of family members, over time many headstones are forgotten about and decay and become damaged. For cemetery authorities, monumental cemeteries are difficult to maintain. While cemeteries often have grassed areas between graves, the layout of graves makes it difficult to use modern equipment such as ride-on lawn mowers in the cemetery. Often the maintenance of grass must be done by more labour-intensive (and therefore expensive) methods. In order to reduce the labour cost, devices such as whipper-snippers are increasingly used in cemetery maintenance, but such devices can damage the monuments and headstones. Cemetery authorities dislike the criticism they receive for the deteriorating condition of the headstones, arguing that they have no responsibility for the upkeep of headstones, and typically disregard their own maintenance practices as being one of the causes of that deterioration.

Lawn cemetery


A lawn
Lawn
A lawn is an area of aesthetic and recreational land planted with grasses or other durable plants, which usually are maintained at a low and consistent height. Low ornamental meadows in natural landscaping styles are a contemporary option of a lawn...

 cemetery
(as the name suggests) is covered in grass
Grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

. Each grave
Grave (burial)
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries....

 is marked with a commemorative plaque
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

 (around 30 cm x 20 cm is typical) placed horizontally at the head of the grave at ground-level. While families are normally still involved in the design and information contained on the plaque, generally the size and materials of the plaque are constrained by the cemetery authorities, who often strongly encourage (or in some cases mandate) the use of a standard design.
Typically, lawn cemeteries comprise a number of graves in this lawn setting with trees and gardens on the perimeter. While aesthetic appeal to family members has been the primary driver for the development of lawn cemeteries, cemetery authorities were initially very enthusiastic about this new style of cemetery, as they appeared to be easier to maintain. By initially selecting (or grading) the land intended for a lawn cemetery to be completely flat, it allows the use of large efficient mowers (such as ride-on mowers or lawn tractors) to be used as the plaques (being horizontally set in the ground) lie below the level of the blades and are not damaged by the blades. Unfortunately, in practice, while families are often initially attracted to the uncluttered appearance of a lawn cemetery, the common practice of placing flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s (sometimes in vase
Vase
The vase is an open container, often used to hold cut flowers. It can be made from a number of materials including ceramics and glass. The vase is often decorated and thus used to extend the beauty of its contents....

s) and increasingly other items (e.g. small toy
Toy
A toy is any object that can be used for play. Toys are associated commonly with children and pets. Playing with toys is often thought to be an enjoyable means of training the young for life in human society. Different materials are used to make toys enjoyable and cuddly to both young and old...

s on children's graves) re-introduces some clutter to the cemetery and makes it difficult to use the larger mower
Mower
A mower is a machine for cutting grass or other plants that grow on the ground. Usually mowing is distinguished from reaping, which uses similar implements, but is the traditional term for harvesting grain crops, e.g...

s. While cemetery authorities increasingly impose restrictions on the nature and type of objects that can be placed on lawn graves and actively remove prohibited items, grieving families are often unwilling to comply with these restrictions and become very upset if the items are removed. Another problem with lawn cemeteries is that over time the grass
Grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

 can grow over and cover the plaque to the distress of families who can no longer easily locate the grave. Grasses that propagate by an above-ground stolon
Stolon
In biology, stolons are horizontal connections between organisms. They may be part of the organism, or of its skeleton; typically, animal stolons are external skeletons.-In botany:...

 (aka runner) can cover a plaque very quickly. Grasses that propagate by a below-ground rhizome
Rhizome
In botany and dendrology, a rhizome is a characteristically horizontal stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes...

 tend not to cover the plaque as easily.

A lawn beam cemetery is a recent development which seeks to solve the problems of the lawn cemetery while retaining many of its benefits. Low (10–15 cm) raised concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 slabs (beams) are placed across the cemetery. Commemorative plaques (usually standardised in terms of size and materials similar to lawn cemeteries) are placed on these beams adjacent to each grave. The graves themselves are covered with grass
Grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

 like a lawn cemetery. The areas between the beams are large enough that they are easy to mow with a larger mower. As the mower blades are set lower than the top of the beam and the mowers do not go over the beam, the blades cannot damage the plaques. Up on the beam, the plaques cannot be easily overgrown by grass and there is space between the plaques for families to place flowers and other objects without interfering with the mowing.

Natural cemeteries


A natural cemetery or eco-cemetery
Eco-cemetery
Natural burial is a process by which the body of a deceased person is interred in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition and allows the body to recycle naturally...

or green cemetery is a new style of cemetery and is an area set aside for natural burials (with or without coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

s). Natural burials are motivated by a desire to be environmentally conscious with the body rapidly decomposing and becoming part of the natural environment without incurring the environmental cost of traditional burials. Although in principle natural burial can be performed in any style of cemetery, typically the environmental motivations of those requesting natural burial tend to favor the use of a natural bushland or woodland setting for the natural burial. Because of the number of trees usually present in a natural cemetery, burials occur in whatever location and orientation best fits the natural environment as opposed to the more traditional rows or other orderly arrangements in traditional cemeteries. As a consequence, natural burial may actually be less efficient land-use than a traditional cemetery. However, because of the rapid decomposition of a natural burial, in principle the re-use of the grave site can occur earlier than in other conventional burials, which would improve the efficiency of land use. However, it remains to be seen if family members will accept the early re-use of natural burial sites, given the general community dislike of re-use of any kind of grave. Another consequence of the lack of orderly burials is the need for highly accurate surveying of the grave site for effective cemetery management, to prevent the accidental re-use of a grave site.

In keeping with the intention of "returning to nature" and the early re-use potential, natural cemeteries do not normally have conventional grave markings such as headstone
Headstone
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

s. Instead, the planting of a tree or bush or placement of a rock is regarded as the more appropriate way to commemorate the deceased. However, as with other types of cemetery, the intentions of the cemetery authorities may be in conflict with the grieving practices of family and friends, for whom being able to visit the precise location of a grave and see the name of the deceased is often important. In some natural cemeteries, names can be inscribed on naturally-shaped rocks (not carved headstones) but, unless the rock is particularly large and heavy, it can easily be knocked or kicked to another nearby location.

Columbarium wall



Columbarium
Columbarium
A columbarium is a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns . The term comes from the Latin columba and originally referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons .The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is a particularly fine ancient Roman example, rich in...

 walls
are a common feature of many cemeteries, reflecting the increasing use of cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 rather than burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

. While cremated remains can be kept at home by families in urn
Urn
An urn is a vase, ordinarily covered, that usually has a narrowed neck above a footed pedestal. "Knife urns" placed on pedestals flanking a dining-room sideboard were an English innovation for high-style dining rooms of the late 1760s...

s or scattered in some significant or attractive place, neither of these approaches allows for a long-lasting commemorative plaque
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

 to honour the deceased nor provides a place for the wider circle of friends and family to come to mourn or "pay their respects" (the practice of honouring a deceased person by visiting their grave). Therefore, many cemeteries now provide walls (typically of brick
Brick
A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...

 or rendered
Stucco
Stucco or render is a material made of an aggregate, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as decorative coating for walls and ceilings and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture...

 brick construction) with a rectangular array of niches, with each niche being big enough to accommodate a person's cremated remains. Columbarium walls are a very space-efficient use of land in a cemetery compared with burials and a niche in a columbarium wall is a much cheaper alternative to a burial plot. A small plaque (about 15 cm x 10 cm) can be affixed across the front of each niche and is generally included as part of the price of a niche. As the writing on the plaques has to be fairly small to fit on the small size of the plaque, the design of columbarium walls is constrained by the ability of visitors to read the plaques. Thus, the niches are typically placed between 1 metre to 2 metres above the ground so the plaques can be easily read by an adult. Some columbarium walls have niches going close to ground level, but these niches are usually unpopular with families as it is difficult to read the plaque without bending down very low (something older people in particular find difficult or uncomfortable to do).

As with graves, the niches may be assigned by the cemetery authorities or families may choose from the unoccupied niches available. It is usually possible to purchase (or pay a deposit) to reserve the use of adjacent niches for other family members. The use of adjacent niches (vertically or horizontally) usually permits a larger plaque spanning all the niches involved, which provides more space for the writing. As with graves, there may be separate columbarium walls for different religions or for war veterans. As with lawn cemeteries, the original expectation was that people would prefer the uncluttered simplicity of a wall of plaques, but the practice of leaving flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s is very entrenched. Mourners leave flowers (and other objects) on top of columbarium walls or at the base, as close as they can to the plaque of their family member. In some cases, it is possible to squeeze a piece of wire or string under the plaque allowing a flower or small posy to be placed on the plaque itself or clips are glued onto the plaque for that purpose. Newer designs of columbarium walls take this desire to leave flowers into account by incorporating a metal clip or loop beside each plaque, typically designed to hold a single flower stem or a small posy. As the flowers decay, they simply fall to the ground and do not create a significant maintenance problem.

Family cemeteries


While uncommon today, family (or private) cemeteries were a matter of practicality during the settlement of America. If a municipal or religious cemetery had not been established, settlers would seek out a small plot of land, often in wooded areas bordering their fields, to begin a family plot. Sometimes, several families would arrange to bury their dead together. While some of these sites later grew into true cemeteries, many were forgotten after a family moved away or died out.

Today, it is not unheard of to discover groupings of tombstones, ranging from a few to a dozen or more, on undeveloped land. As late twentieth century suburban sprawl pressured the pace of development in formerly rural areas, it became increasingly common for larger exurban properties to be encumbered by "religious easements," which are legal requirements for the property owner to permit periodic maintenance of small burial plots located on the property but technically not owned with it. Often, cemeteries are relocated to accommodate building. However, if the cemetery is not relocated, descendants of people buried there may visit the cemetery.

More recent is the practice of families with large estates choosing to create private cemeteries in the form of burial sites, monument
Monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

s, crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

s, or mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

s on their property; the mausoleum at Fallingwater
Fallingwater
Fallingwater or Kaufmann Residence is a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh...

 is an example of this practice. Burial of a body at a site may protect the location from redevelopment, with such estates often being placed in the care of a trust
Trust law
In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another...

 or foundation
Foundation (charity)
A foundation is a legal categorization of nonprofit organizations that will typically either donate funds and support to other organizations, or provide the source of funding for its own charitable purposes....

. Presently, state regulations have made it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to start private cemeteries; many require a plan to care for the site in perpetuity. Private cemeteries are nearly always forbidden on incorporated residential zones.
Many people will bury a beloved pet on the family property.

Customs and practices involving cemeteries



Flowers


In Western countries, and many others, cut flowers are commonly left by visitors to graves, especially during major holidays and on birthdays or relevant anniversaries. Cemeteries usually throw away these flowers after a few weeks in order to keep the space maintained. Flowers may often be planted on the grave as well, usually immediately in front of the gravestone. For this purpose roses are highly common.

Stones


Jewish cemeteries often have multiple small, usually round, stones left on the top of the headstones. These have a prayer said as they are left. This practice is seen in the closing scene of the film Schindler's List
Schindler's List
Schindler's List is a 1993 American film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on the novel Schindler's Ark...

 although in that case it is not on a Jewish grave.

Crosses


War graves will commonly have small timber crosses left with a red poppy attached to its centre. These will often have messages written on the cross. More formal visits will often leave a poppy wreath. Jewish war graves are sometimes marked by a timber Star of David
Star of David
The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles...

.

Contemporary cemetery management


Traditionally cemetery management only involves the allocation of land for burial, the digging and filling of graves, and the maintenance of the grounds and landscaping. The construction and maintenance of headstone
Headstone
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

s and other grave monuments is usually the private responsibility of families of the deceased. However, increasingly, many people regard the resultant collection of individual headstones, concrete slabs and fences (some of which may be decayed or damaged) to be aesthetically unappealing, leading to new cemetery developments either standardising the shape or design of headstones or plaques, sometimes by providing a standard shaped marker as part of the service provided by the cemetery.

Grave digging


Cemetery authorities normally employ a full-time staff of caretakers
Gravedigger
A gravedigger is a cemetery worker responsible for digging graves used in the process of burial.-Fossors:Fossor or Fossarius , from the Latin verb fodere 'to dig', referred to grave diggers in the Roman catacombs in the first three centuries of the Christian Era...

 to dig graves. The term "gravedigger" is still used in casual speech, though many cemeteries have adopted the term "caretaker", since their duties often involve maintenance of the cemetery grounds and facilities. The employment of skilled personnel for the preparation of graves is done not only to ensure the grave is dug in the correct location and at the correct depth, but also to relieve families from having to dig the grave for a recently deceased relative, and as a matter of public safety, in order to prevent inexperienced visitors from injuring themselves, to ensure unused graves are properly covered, and to avoid legal liability that would result from an injury related to an improperly dug or uncovered grave. Preparation of the grave is usually done before the mourners arrive for the burial. The cemetery caretakers fill the grave after the burial, generally after the mourners have departed. Mechanical equipment, such as backhoe
Backhoe
A backhoe, also called a rear actor or back actor, is a piece of excavating equipment or digger consisting of a digging bucket on the end of a two-part articulated arm. They are typically mounted on the back of a tractor or front loader...

s, are used to reduce labour cost of digging and filling, but some hand shoveling may still be required.

In the United Kingdom the minimum depth from the surface to the highest lid is 36 inches. There must be 6 inches between each coffin, which on average is 15 inches high. If the soil is free draining and porous, only 24 inches of soil on top is required. Coffins may be interred as lesser depth or even above the grave as long as they are encased in a concrete chamber. Before 1977, double graves were dug to 8 feet and singles to 6 feet. As a single grave is now dug to 54 inches, old cemeteries contain many areas where new single graves can be dug on "old ground". This is considered a valid method of resource management and provides income to keep older cemeteries viable, thus forestalling the need for permanent closure, which would result in a reduction of their work force.

Burial registers


Usually there is a legal requirement to maintain records regarding the burials (or interment of ashes) within a cemetery. These burial registers usually contain (at a minimum) the name of the person buried, the date of burial and the location of the burial within the cemetery, although some burial registers contain far more information about the deceased person. Burial registers are an important resource for genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

.

Land use management


In order to physically manage the space within the cemetery (to avoid burials in existing graves) and to record locations in the burial register, most cemeteries have some systematic layout of graves in rows, generally grouped into larger sections as required. Often the cemetery displays this information in the form of a map
Map
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes....

, which is used both by the cemetery administration in managing their land use and also by friends and family members seeking to locate a particular grave within the cemetery.

Pressures on cemetery management



Cemetery authorities face a number of tensions in regard to the management of cemeteries.

One issue relates to cost. Traditionally a single payment is made at the time of burial, but the cemetery authority incurs expenses in cemetery maintenance over many decades. Many cemetery authorities find that their accumulated funds are not sufficient for the costs of long-term maintenance. This shortfall in funds for maintenance results in three main options: charge much higher prices for new burials, obtain some other kind of public subsidy, or neglect maintenance. For cemeteries without space for new burials, the options are even more limited. Public attitudes towards subsidies are highly variable. People with family buried in local cemeteries are usually quite concerned about neglect of cemetery maintenance and will usually argue in favour of public subsidy of local cemetery maintenance, whereas other people without connection to the area often argue that public spending comes from their taxes and therefore should be spent on the living in the district rather than being "wasted" on the dead.

Another issue relates to limited amount of land. In many larger towns and cities, the older cemeteries which were initially considered to be large often run out of space for new burials and there is no vacant adjacent land available to extend the cemetery or even land in the same general area to create new cemeteries. New cemeteries are generally established on the periphery of towns and cities, where large tracts of land are still available. However, people often wish to be buried in the same cemetery as other relatives, creating pressure to find more space in existing cemeteries and are not interested in being buried in new cemeteries with which there is no sense of connection to their family.

A third issue is the maintenance of monuments and headstones, which are generally the responsibility of families, but often become neglected over time. Decay and damage through vandalism or cemetery maintenance practices can render monuments and headstones either unsafe or at least unsightly. On the other hand, some families do not forget the grave but constantly visit, leaving behind flowers, plants, and other decorative items that create their own maintenance problem.

Re-use of graves




All of these issues tend to put pressure on the re-use of grave sites within cemeteries. The re-use of graves already used for burial can cause considerable upset to family members. Although the authorities might declare that the grave is sufficiently old that there will be no human remains still present, nonetheless many people regard the re-use of graves (particularly their family's graves) as a desecration
Desecration
Desecration is the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful or contemptuous treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual.-Detail:...

. Also re-use of a used grave involves the removal of any monuments and headstones, which may cause further distress to families (although families will typically be allowed to take away the monuments and headstones if they wish).

On the other hand, cemetery authorities are well aware that many old graves are forgotten and not visited and that their re-use will not cause distress to anyone. However, there may be some older graves in acemetery for whom there are local and vocal descendants who will mount a public campaign against re-use. One pragmatic strategy is to publicly announce plans to re-use older graves and invite families to respond if they are willing or not. Re-use then only occurs where there are no objections allowing the "forgotten" graves to be re-used. Sometimes the cemetery authorities request a further payment to avoid re-use of a grave, but often this backfires politically.

A practical problem with regard to contacting families is that the original person who organised a burial may themselves also be dead and buried and locating living family members many decades later is virtually impossible (or at least prohibitively expensive). Therefore communication about re-use in local cemeteries tends to occur only through in local publications, which often do not reach family members living further afield who may only become aware of the re-use of the grave after the event (and after the removal and destruction of monuments and headstones).

Some cemeteries did foresee the need for re-use and included in their original terms and conditions a limited tenure on a grave site and most new cemeteries follow this practice, having seen the problems faced by older cemeteries. However, even when the cemetery has the legal right to re-use a grave, strong public opinion often forces the authorities to back down on that re-use. Also, even when cemeteries have a limited tenure provision in place, often funding shortages force them to contemplate re-use earlier than the original arrangements provided for.

Another type of grave site that must be considered for re-use are those that have never been used (but have been purchased at some time for future use). In principle it would seem easier to re-use such grave sites as there can be no claims of desecration
Desecration
Desecration is the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful or contemptuous treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual.-Detail:...

, but often this is made more complicated by the legal rights to be buried obtained by the pre-purchase, as any limited tenure clause only takes effect after there has been a burial. Again, cemetery authorities suspect that in many cases the holders of these burial rights are probably deceased and that nobody will exercise that burial right, but again some families are aware of the burial rights they possess and do intend to exercise them as and when family members die. Again the difficulty of being unable to locate the holders of these burial rights complicates the re-use of those graves.


As historic cemeteries begin to reach their capacity for full burials, alternative memorialization, such as collective memorials for cremated individuals, is becoming more common. Different cultures have different attitudes to destruction of cemeteries and use of the land for construction. In some countries it is considered normal to destroy the graves, while in others the graves are traditionally respected for a century or more. In many cases, after a suitable period of time has elapsed, the headstones are removed and the now former cemetery is converted to a recreational park or construction site. A more recent trend, particularly in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

n cities, involves constructing high-rise buildings to house graves.

Cemeteries in the United States may be relocated if the land is required for other reasons. For instance, many cemeteries in the southeastern United States were relocated by the Tennessee Valley Authority
Tennessee Valley Authority
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a federally owned corporation in the United States created by congressional charter in May 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected...

 from areas about to be flooded by dam construction. Cemeteries may also be moved so that the land can be reused for transportation structures, public buildings, or even private development. Cemetery relocation is not necessarily possible in other parts of the world; in Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, for instance, the Cemetery Act expressly forbids the relocation of cemeteries or the mass exhumation of marked graves for any reason whatsoever. This has caused significant problems in the provision of transportation services to the southern half of the City of Calgary, as the main southbound road connecting the south end of the city with downtown threads through a series of cemeteries founded in the 1930s. The light rail transit
C-Train
C-Train is the light rail transit system in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It has been in operation since May 25, 1981. The system is operated by Calgary Transit, a department of the Calgary municipal government.-Operations:...

 line running to the south end eventually had to be built directly under the road.

Maintenance and mourning


Cemetery authorities also face tension between the competing demands of efficient maintenance with the needs of mourners.

Labour costs in particular have risen substantially and so finding low-cost maintenance methods (meaning low-labour maintenance methods) is increasingly important. However, as discussed above, the use of large mower
Mower
A mower is a machine for cutting grass or other plants that grow on the ground. Usually mowing is distinguished from reaping, which uses similar implements, but is the traditional term for harvesting grain crops, e.g...

s and string trimmer
String trimmer
A string trimmer, also known as a strimmer, line trimmer, weed whacker, weed whip, weed eater, weedy, or whipper snipper, is a powered handheld device that uses a flexible monofilament line instead of a blade for cutting grass and other plants near objects...

s might be efficient but often cannot be used in cemeteries because they physically are too large to fit between graves or because they can damage the monuments and headstones. In this regard, older cemeteries designed at a time of relatively low-cost labour and limited automation tend to present the greatest difficulties for maintenance.

On the other hand, newer cemeteries might be designed to be more efficiently maintained with lower labour through the increased use of equipment, e.g. lawn cemeteries where the maintenance can be performed with a ride-on mower or lawn tractor. However, efficient maintenance of newer graves is often frustrated by the actions of mourners who often place flowers and other objects on graves. These objects often require manual intervention; in some cases objects will be picked up and returned after maintenance, in other cases (e.g. dead flowers) they will be disposed of.

Again, although cemetery authorities try to prohibit the quantity and nature of objects placed on graves (a common restriction is to allow only fresh flowers, not in a vase
Vase
The vase is an open container, often used to hold cut flowers. It can be made from a number of materials including ceramics and glass. The vase is often decorated and thus used to extend the beauty of its contents....

 or pot), but mourning families might ignore any such regulations and become very upset if other objects are removed. In particular, in an era in which the death of children is now relatively uncommon, some parents create quite large shrines at their child's grave, decorating them with toys, wind chimes, statues of angels and cherubs, etc. as a manifestation of their grief, adding items to the pile of objects on the grave progressively over time. Cemetery authorities have to try to deal with such situations sensitively, as strong emotions are involved. However, as well as their own maintenance problems with such "shrines", families with graves in the surrounding area often complain to cemetery authorities about the "mess", as they believe it detracts from the dignity of their family's graves. It is difficult to find a solution that makes everyone happy.

Unusual cemeteries

  • The Merry Cemetery
    Merry Cemetery
    The Merry Cemetery is a cemetery in the village of Săpânţa, Maramureş county, Romania. It is famous for its colourful tombstones with naïve paintings describing, in an original and poetic manner, the persons that are buried there as well as scenes from their lives...

     in Săpânţa
    Sapânta
    Săpânţa is a commune in Maramureş County in northern Romania, 15 kilometers northwest of Sighet and just south of the Tisza River. It is composed of a single village, Săpânţa....

    , northern Romania
    Romania
    Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

    .
  • The Cross Bones
    Cross Bones
    Cross Bones is a post-medieval disused burial ground in The Borough, Southwark, south London, in what is now known as Redcross Way.It is believed to have been established originally as an unconsecrated graveyard for "single women," a euphemism for prostitutes, known locally as "Winchester Geese,"...

    , a disused burial ground in Southwark
    Southwark
    Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

    , London for prostitutes
  • The British Cemetery in Madrid
    British Cemetery in Madrid
    The British Cemetery in Madrid was opened in 1854 in the Carabanchel district of Madrid, Spain, and the first burials took place that year. Few burials take place in the cemetery today because it is full, but there is provision for the interment of cremated remains.The cemetery is similar to many...

    , a cemetery for Protestants and Spanish suicides.
  • The Manila Chinese Cemetery
    Manila Chinese Cemetery
    The Manila Chinese Cemetery is the second oldest cemetery in Manila after La Loma Cemetery and was designated as the resting place for the Chinese citizens who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period. The cemetery was witness to many executions during World War...

     in the Philippines has richly decorated mausoleums.
  • The Neptune Memorial Reef is a burial ground where the remains of cremated bodies are stored. Due to the location underwater, the burial ground does not take up any otherwise usable space.

Cemeteries for pets


The Cimetière des Chiens
Cimetière des Chiens
The Cimetière des Chiens is often claimed to be the first zoological necropolis in the world...

 in Asnières-sur-Seine
Asnières-sur-Seine
Asnières-sur-Seine is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France, along the river Seine. It is located from the center of Paris.-Name:...

 in Paris is an elaborate pet cemetery believed to be the first zoological
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

 necropolis
Necropolis
A necropolis is a large cemetery or burial ground, usually including structural tombs. The word comes from the Greek νεκρόπολις - nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead"...

 in the world.

Cemeteries and superstition


In many countries, cemeteries are places believed to hold both superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

 and legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

 character, being used, usually at nighttimes, as an altar in black magic
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

 ceremonies or similarly clandestine happenings, such as devil worshipping, grave-robbing (gold teeth and jewelry are preferred), thrilling sex encounters or drug and alcohol abuse not related to the cemetery aura
Aura (paranormal)
In parapsychology and many forms of spiritual practice, an aura is a field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object . The depiction of such an aura often connotes a person of particular power or holiness. Sometimes, however, it is said that all living things and all objects...

 (see below).

The legend of zombies, as romanticized by Wade Davis
Wade Davis
Edmund Wade Davis is a Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer whose work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures, especially in North and South America and particularly involving the traditional uses and beliefs associated with psychoactive plants...

 in The Serpent and the Rainbow, is not exceptional among cemetery myths, as cemeteries are places where witches and sorcerers get skulls and bones needed for their sinister rituals.

In the Afro-Brazilian urban mythos (like Umbanda
Umbanda
Umbanda is an Afro-Brazilian religion that blends African religions with Catholicism, Spiritism and Kardecism, and considerable indigenous lore....

), there is a character loosely related to cemeteries and its aura
Aura (paranormal)
In parapsychology and many forms of spiritual practice, an aura is a field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object . The depiction of such an aura often connotes a person of particular power or holiness. Sometimes, however, it is said that all living things and all objects...

: the Zé Pilintra
Zé Pilintra
Zé Pilintra , a.k.a. "Zé Pelintra", is a folkloric and spiritual character from the Afro-Brazilian and regional religions Umbanda and Catimbó ....

 (in fact, Zé Pilintra is more related to bohemianism and night life than with cemeteries, where the reigning entity is Exu Caveira or Exu Cemitério, similar to Voodoo Baron Samedi).

See also


  • Corpse road
    Corpse road
    Corpse roads provided a practical means for transporting corpses, often from remote communities, to cemeteries that had burial rights, such as parish churches and chapels of ease...

  • Prison cemetery
    Prison cemetery
    A prison cemetery is a cemetery reserved for prisoners. Generally, the remains of inmates who are not claimed by family or friends are interred in prison cemeteries and include convicts executed for capital crimes.-List of prison cemeteries:...

  • Lists of cemeteries by country

Other types of burial places

  • Catacomb
  • Churchyard
    Churchyard
    A churchyard is a patch of land adjoining or surrounding a church which is usually owned by the relevant church or local parish itself. In the Scots language or Northern English language this can also be known as a kirkyard or kirkyaird....

  • Columbarium
    Columbarium
    A columbarium is a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns . The term comes from the Latin columba and originally referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons .The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is a particularly fine ancient Roman example, rich in...

  • Crypt
    Crypt
    In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

  • Graveyard
    Graveyard
    A graveyard is any place set aside for long-term burial of the dead, with or without monuments such as headstones...

  • Mass grave
    Mass grave
    A mass grave is a grave containing multiple number of human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. There is no strict definition of the minimum number of bodies required to constitute a mass grave, although the United Nations defines a mass grave as a burial site which...

  • Necropolis
    Necropolis
    A necropolis is a large cemetery or burial ground, usually including structural tombs. The word comes from the Greek νεκρόπολις - nekropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead"...

  • Ossuary
    Ossuary
    An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary...

  • Tomb
    Tomb
    A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

  • Tumulus
    Tumulus
    A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn...

  • Unmarked grave
    Unmarked grave
    The phrase unmarked grave has metaphorical meaning in the context of cultures that mark burial sites.As a figure of speech, a common meaning of the term "unmarked grave" is consignment to oblivion, i.e., an ignominious end. A grave monument is a sign of respect and fondness, erected with the...

  • War Grave
    War grave
    A war grave is a burial place for soldiers or civilians who died during military campaigns or operations. The term does not only apply to graves: ships sunk during wartime are often considered to be war graves, as are military aircraft that crash into water...


Regional variations of burial places and practices

  • Skull and crossbones (Spanish cemetery)
    Skull and crossbones (Spanish cemetery)
    Actual skulls and bones were long used to mark the entrances to Spanish cemeteries . The practice, dating back many centuries, led to the symbol eventually becoming associated with the concept of death...


Specific types of burial places

  • Mausoleum
    Mausoleum
    A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

  • Megalithic tomb
  • Natural burial
  • Potter's field
    Potter's field
    A potter's field was an American term for a place for the burial of unknown or indigent people. The expression derives from the Bible, referring to a field used for the extraction of potter's clay, which was useless for agriculture but could be used as a burial site.-Origin:The term comes from...

  • Reliquary
    Reliquary
    A reliquary is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures...

  • Sepulchre
    Sepulchre
    The rock-cut tombs in ancient Israel are a group of hundreds of rock-cut tombs constructed in Israel in ancient times. They were cut into the rock, sometimes with elaborate facades and multiple burial chambers. Some are free-standing, but most are caves. Each tomb typically belonged to a...

  • Shaft and chamber tomb
    Shaft and chamber tomb
    A Shaft and chamber tomb is a type of chamber tomb used by some ancient peoples for burial of the dead. They consist of a shaft dug into the outcrops of rock with a square or round chamber excavated at the bottom where the dead were placed....

  • Stupa
    Stupa
    A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

  • Stone ship
    Stone ship
    The Stone ship or ship setting was an early Germanic burial custom, characteristically Scandinavian but also found in Germany and the Baltic states. The grave or cremation burial is surrounded by tightly or loosely fit slabs or stones in the outline of a ship...

  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave in which the unidentifiable remains of a soldier are interred. Such tombs can be found in many nations and are usually high-profile national monuments. Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified...


Removal of remains from cemeteries

  • Exhumation
  • Grave robbing
    Grave robbing
    Grave robbery, grave robbing, or tomb raiding is the act of uncovering a tomb or crypt to steal artifacts or personal effects. Someone who engages in this act is a grave robber or tomb raider...

  • Resurrectionists
    Body-snatching
    Body snatching is the secret disinterment of corpses from graveyards. A common purpose of body snatching is to sell the corpses for dissection or anatomy lectures in medical schools...


Businesses and professions for cemeteries

  • Funeral home
    Funeral home
    A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides burial and funeral services for the deceased and their families. These services may include aprepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral....

  • Gravedigger
    Gravedigger
    A gravedigger is a cemetery worker responsible for digging graves used in the process of burial.-Fossors:Fossor or Fossarius , from the Latin verb fodere 'to dig', referred to grave diggers in the Roman catacombs in the first three centuries of the Christian Era...

  • Morgue
    Morgue
    A morgue or mortuary is used for the storage of human corpses awaiting identification, or removal for autopsy or disposal by burial, cremation or otherwise...

  • Stonemason
  • Undertaker

Public holidays and traditions in relation to cemeteries

  • All Souls' Day
  • Day of the Dead
    Day of the Dead
    Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality...

  • Memorial Day
    Memorial Day
    Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War...

  • National day of mourning
    National day of mourning
    A national day of mourning is a day marked by mourning and memorial activities observed among the majority of a country's populace. They are designated by that nation's government...

  • Qingming Festival
    Qingming Festival
    The Qingming Festival , Pure Brightness Festival or Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice , usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar...

  • Saturday of Souls
    Saturday of Souls
    Saturday of Souls is a day set aside for commemoration of the dead within the liturgical year of the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches...

  • Bon Festival
    Bon Festival
    or just is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed...


Further aids to find cemetery locations or names of those buried

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is an intergovernmental organisation of six independent member states whose principal function is to mark, record and maintain the graves, and places of commemoration, of Commonwealth of Nations military service members who died in the two World Wars...

  • Find A Grave
    Find A Grave
    Find a Grave is a commercial website providing free access and input to an online database of cemetery records. It was founded in 1998 as a DBA and incorporated in 2000.-History:...

  • Obituary
    Obituary
    An obituary is a news article that reports the recent death of a person, typically along with an account of the person's life and information about the upcoming funeral. In large cities and larger newspapers, obituaries are written only for people considered significant...

  • Poets' Graves
    Poets' Graves
    Poets' Graves is an on-line database of the last resting places of poets. The site is regularly archived by the British Library so that it remains available to future researchers.-History:...

  • The Political Graveyard
    The Political Graveyard
    The Political Graveyard is a website and database that catalogues information on more than 224,000 American political figures and political families, along with other information.-History:...