Grave overcrowding: 20 of your ideas on how to solve graveyard space shortage


The Magazine's recent piece on graveyards running out of space prompted many of you to email suggestions for solving the problem. Here are the most popular.

Cemeteries across the UK are becoming overcrowded, so Lucy Townsend explored where she might be buried if space ran out. Here are 20 of the most emailed suggestions for tackling the problem.

1. Why not have an e-gravestone. It will last forever, only require a tiny little bit of server space and people can visit you from anywhere in the world to pay their respects. Mortal remains should of course be cremated, as the only sensible option. Yeah, e-graveyard. Why am I even posting this message publicly? This idea is gold-dust - hands off! Barnaby, Sheffield

2. How about using an earth auger (used for boring holes for telephone poles) and burying coffins vertically. Steve Coombs, Shepton Mallet

3. What about burial in space? Much cheaper than for the living as no life support required. Would have to go beyond Earth orbit as a head-on collision with the space station at thousands of kilometres per hour would be a real headache. But once in deep space the body would be frozen solid and preserved for years. There is some appeal in being sent straight into the heavens. Mr Mart, Bath, Somerset

4. How about having your remains thrown into an active volcano? Environmentally friendly, no need to dig up any previous burial - it could be a winner. Steve Kimberley, Cambridge

5. I would be happy to go on my compost heap, great for the veg plot. Sue Rix, Hereford

6. Why not vacuum pack bodies so they take up less space, like those bags you get to vacuum piles of clothes and store household items. Then bury the body "standing up" so it takes less space. Restrict monuments in graveyards to a narrower dimension, with a maximum allowed and restrict walkways between rows to the bare minimum. In most graveyards I have been to this would save over 50% easily. Paul Incles, Corby

7. In the Netherlands you may hire your grave for just 15 years in some places. Any more and you have to dig deep in your own wallet, if possible at all. Buick Lewish, Newtownabbey

8. Why not use a modified version of the traditional Tibetan sky burial with vultures? Other birds could be used. This way no overcrowding. Paul Stone, Burton on Trent

9. Why not consider Thomas Lynch's idea of the Golfatorium - cemetery and golf course combined? Simon Mitchell, Cali, Colombia

10. Ok, so I'm an engineer and my engineering brain could come up with quite a few solutions that whilst might be good, could quite possibly make some wince. There is a method of shredding the body, then putting the remains into a super-compactor to reduce the size and remove all the liquids. This would make the human body take up about the same space as a couple of CD cases, which could be multi stacked in many ways. Chris, Knutsford, Cheshire

11. I'd like to be fed to lions or tigers when I die. Probably not an option, but I live in hope. Andy Bignell, Bracknell

12. The solution would be private burial grounds on private land. If people can manage that it could be more profitable than farming or building on these plots. These are very common in the US already. I would not mind starting one myself if a plot can be identified and a license given. Gabriele Towhidi, Surrey and Malaga, Spain

Image caption The graveyard in the sky?

13. I once read that you can legally be buried in your own garden provided you were a certain distance from things like rivers and the like. Not sure I like the idea myself and not sure it would help sell a house. Barrie Mason, Woking

14. There is a move towards green burials and a large number of rural burial sites are available. They allow no headstones, just a simple grave marker or tree to mark the site, and no grave tending as such as the idea is the ground returns to its original state in very little time. Vince Williams, Burntwood, Staffordshire

15. In Santos (Brazil), there is a high-rise building which is used for burials. They call it a "vertical graveyard". It makes sense - ground space is at a premium and it won't require actual digging. Pedro, Porto, Portugal

16. There is always burial at sea, however the government hate doing it and try to make it as difficult as possible. Even in death you are crushed by regulations. I have opted for this method just to annoy them. Nick, London

17. In Portugal, unless the plot is bought by the family in perpetuity, common practice is that people are only buried for five years, when they are exhumed, with the remains either being cremated or cleaned and put in a drawer similar to a filing cabinet. John Baker, Lisbon, Portugal

18. In Paris in the 17th Century their graveyards became so overfull they exhumed thousands of the dead and reburied them in catacombs under the city, stacked up in piles of bones all together. It's very creepy - it's open to the public - but a good use of space at least, I suppose. Amy, Milton Keynes

19. Why can't I just sell my body and leave the money to my estate (children/wife). I read somewhere that bones and organs are worth money. Jim Sevier, Rigwood, Hampshire

20. For coming from a science background it is a no brainer. I will donate whatever is useful for organ donation and what's left goes to science research. Our bodies aren't any to us when we are dead but can serve a purpose other than worm food. Michael Kennedy, Sheffield