We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Crypt?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Historical Index is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Historical Index, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A crypt is an underground chamber which is used to store human remains, relics, and objects of religious or cultural value. Crypts are most commonly found in association with churches, although they also appear on the grounds of cemeteries and in conjunction with older private estates, where residents of the estate might have been buried in the crypt historically. Many people are familiar with the concept of a crypt, thanks to abundant vampire movies and horror films in which people seem to end up trapped in crypts on a regular basis.

In contrast with catacombs, extensive underground networks of burial chambers, crypts are typically single chambers, although they may be quite large, and in some cases they may be galleried to support the weight of the earth above. The earliest crypts were used to bury prominent religious figures, and in the Christian Church, many churches were built over or near crypts so that pilgrims could visit the crypts of saints and other famous religious figures and also attend services at the church. For churches built over crypts, the crypt would also have been a source of revenue, especially if it contained verified saintly relics.

The word “crypt” comes from a Greek word meaning “hidden,” but crypts are not necessarily concealed. Some crypts are actually above ground or only partially underground, and they may be readily accessible to pilgrims, faithful, and the members of a community. The fact that crypts are usually under churches is also a bit of a giveaway; most ancient churches have a crypt lurking beneath their floors.

Typically, a crypt is entirely lined in stone, for safety and support and to protect the remains stored inside. Sarcophagi are commonly used to store remains in a crypt, with some crypts using glass sarcophagi or coffins with glass openings so that people can view the remains. Some crypts also have ossuaries, boxes which contain the cleaned bones of the dead, and they may have chests or caskets of precious or sacred items, like objects which belonged to saints.

Visiting a crypt can be quite interesting, for those who aren't squeamish around human remains. The religious faithful may visit crypts because they believe that the pilgrimage is important to the practice of their faith, with some people believing that being in the presence of relics may be a healing experience, while the history-inclined sometimes like to see the preserved artifacts in crypts.

Historical Index is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Historical Index researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By gravois — On Aug 12, 2012

It is so crazy to me to think of using human bones to prop up a building or houses.

When you think about it is makes a little bit of sense. They are solid and there is a lot of them.

But it all just seems so morbid. I can't imagine being in a building knowing that the skeletons of a thousand people are below your feet.

By clippers — On Aug 11, 2012

Are there any crypts in America? I know that there are a number of them in other parts of the world but I would like to know if there are any here.

I have always been fascinated by crypts ever since I saw a show about them on the discovery channel about 10 years ago. I have always wanted to visit one but just haven't had the opportunity yet.

By tigers88 — On Aug 10, 2012

I have been to a few crypts in Europe and it is a pretty amazing experience. It is creepy for sure but once you get over the initial shock it becomes really cool and something curious.

A lot of them have been made in artistic ways. It is not just a pile of bones like you might be expecting.

By anon114849 — On Sep 30, 2010

old churches have crypts "lurking" under them? i think you need to look up the definition of the word "lurking".

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.