Physical Structures for Above Ground Interment

Physical Structures

While the great majority of burials in British Columbia are below ground, there are also many grave structures designed for above-ground interments. These structures vary from a small vault or cell-type chamber to larger mausoleums.

The following are some of the most common structures for above-ground interments:

Sarcophagus – Structure where the body is interred above ground in either a single or double sarcophagus made of stone; sometimes referred to as “bench tombs” or “grave sheds.” This type of grave memorial was common in England but was very easily broken into. Today most of these old structures have been heavily vandalized. Larger cemeteries still use these structures but they are no longer very popular. The word “sarcophagus” is derived from the Greek words meaning flesh-eating stone.

Mausoleum – An above-ground burial structure that can be entered like a building. These structures are almost always made of stone and are expensive to construct. Individual burial cells or chambers in a mausoleum are referred to as loculi (from the Latin word loculus, meaning small compartment). Mausoleums usually contain family members and most often have four or more chambers. Mausoleums may contain both bodies and cremated remains. In urban cemeteries, mausoleums are sometimes large buildings containing hundreds of loculi.