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In countries with a Christian tradition it is usually located near and administered by a church. From the early 19th century, new burying grounds were frequently founded as cemeteries, which are burying grounds that are separate from a church or parish.
Origins and class distinctions 
Graveyards were usually established at the same time as the building of the relevant place of worship (which can date back to the 8th to 14th centuries) and were often used by those families who could not afford to be buried inside or beneath the place of worship itself. In most cultures those who were vastly rich, had important professions, were part of the nobility or were of any other high social status were usually buried in individual crypts inside or beneath the relevant place of worship 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 family coat of arms.
Most of middle or low social status others were buried in graveyards around the relevant church again divided by social status. Families of the deceased who could afford the work of a stonemason had a headstone 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) 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; however, this would quickly deteriorate under the rain or snow. Some families hired a blacksmith and had large crosses made from various metals 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
- Continued outbreaks of highly infectious diseases in towns and cities due to lack of public hygiene. Many graveyards in cities were located on land enclosed within the city walls.
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.
In some cases, skeletons were exhumed from graveyards and moved into ossuaries or catacombs. A large action of this type occurred in 18th century Paris when human remains were transferred from graveyards all over the city to the Catacombs of Paris.
However in most places across Europe completely new places of burial were established away from heavily populated areas and outside of old towns and cities. Often against the wishes of the clergy, churchyards were closed to burials. New cemeteries were established as privately or municipally owned sites and thus independent from churches and their churchyards. Some were designed for single faiths or were divided into sections or enclosures according to the faith or denomination of the deceased. The timing varied according to country, politics and city. Thus Paris closed its central churchyards and relocated its burials during the Napoleonic period, creating cemeteries such as Père Lachaise. The British Parliament allowed seven private cemeteries to be opened around London between 1832 and 1841. It only outlawed burials in City churchyards in 1852, allowing municipalities to set up their own subsidised cemeteries in competition. Other European cities followed suit during the 19th century.
Thus cemeteries, rather than graveyards, became the principal place of burial for the deceased and this state continues to this day.
Burial in graveyards after the 19th century 
Even as far as the 20th century, permission was granted to many small towns and villages to continue using their local graveyards for burials. Many of these places had very small populations with few deaths every year, and had a much better record of public hygiene. Therefore they did not require the establishment of a new burial ground.
Present status 
Thousands of graveyards still stand across the world today and are usually the place where the oldest graves of a community or part of a city can be found.
However, with churches, most notably in England, their churchyards have been taken over for other functions in part or in whole, with or without a graveyard still situated on it. Also in many cases in the late 19th century and 20th century, churchyards have been acquired in order for a road to be built or expanded. The loss of part (or all) of the churchyard, often also led to the removal and permanent loss of centuries-old graves and headstones. In some cases the human remains were exhumed and the gravestones transferred.
In other cases, the churches themselves removed the headstones in the graveyards, to recreate a park-like environment or wildlife area in the churchyard. Similarly, kerbstones and borders have been removed from the plots to facilitate the seasonal cutting and removal of grass or weeds. Churchyard regulations frequently restrict the type and size of memorial.
Scottish law prevents the clearance of graveyards, largely on the basis of how the title deeds are sold. Titles to burial plots (entitled "lairs") are in perpetuity and therefore can never be moved. In England, although there may once have been a presumption of perpetuity, plots are now effectively bought on leasehold for between 25 and 100 years. Graves or their graveyards may therefore be resold 100 years after the last burial and cleared of graves. On the European continent, long leases are unusual; some may be as short as 5 years, or more typically 25 years. This enables a regular income to be achieved by the owner.
See also 
- Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable