Many people are under the impression that the casket selected for underground burial is what will physically be in contact with the earth, but that is not the case. A burial vault, also known as a grave liner, is a container that is often made of concrete that the casket is placed inside of. The purpose of the burial vault is to prevent a grave from sinking or settling into the earth when maintenance equipment is driven over it. While original vaults were made of wood, today’s concrete is much more sturdy and durable.

Early Grave Vaults

Grave vaults or liners are a relatively new construct as they were rarely used before the 1800s. Back in those days, vaults were often made of wood, brick, iron or steel and had a primary purpose of preventing grave robbery–which apparently was much more common back then, as loved ones were often buried with expensive jewelry or other finery. As grave tenders noticed that those graves with a burial vault did not tend to sink into the ground, they began to be adopted for other reasons as well.

Modern Burial Vaults

Modern vaults enclose the casket completely, and are lowered into the grave first with the lid on the vault left open. Once the casket has been lowered into the vault, the vault lid is added and secured. The vault, made of plastic, metal or concrete, is different from a burial liner, which does not have a bottom. When using a burial liner, the casket is lowered directly into the ground and the liner is lowered on top of the casket. A variety of styles, colors and finishes are available and the burial vaults can even be lined on the inside with precious metals such as bronze or copper.

Your state or cemetery may require that a burial vault or liner be used in your burial, but they are not legally mandated across the U.S. Interestingly enough, while burial vaults are used in the majority of U.S. burials, this construct is very rarely found around the world.

If you have questions about whether a vault or liner will be required for your burial, contact us today and our friendly service team will be happy to help you.