Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Why were the deceased sometimes buried in their beds during the Middle Ages? It’s been a mystery, until now.
From the 5th to 10th centuries throughout Europe, occasionally the wealthy were buried, bed and all, in the ground. Although children and men have been found buried in their bed, it was especially common for women to be buried this way. Even so, researchers were flummoxed as to why this practice had taken hold in some regions. But after analyzing 72 bed burials, researchers recently determined that the beds were often expensively carved balusters and that many of the women had not been born in Britain.
It’s been theorized that the church covertly attempted to convert reluctant pagans to Christianity by encouraging marriages of Christian women, often from another Christianized country to a pagan yet wealthy British man. By doing so, the Church would gain new followers that would provide large dowries to the church upon their demise.
Historians now theorize that by burying a woman in her bed was a display of the family’s wealth, as not only was the bed quite expensive, but it was also costly to dig such a grave that was large enough to fit an entire bed.
Over time the custom may have faded away, due to the costs involved.