| Patterns in the distribution of graves in the central medieval cemetery of Reusel , the Netherlands |
entation of the graves was determined by measuring from the head to the feet of the skeleton . If a skeleton was preserved , it was attempted to estimate sex .
By plotting different traits on the cemetery map , patterns can be discovered that may point to special or different treatment of certain groups or the development of the cemetery through time .
Results : spatial distribution of population density , grave morphologies , orientation , and sex People were buried everywhere around the church , but the most striking aspect of the map is the concentration of graves in the area of the second presbytery ( table 1 ). The population density of this area ( 3.19 graves / m 2 ) is almost three times as high as the average ( 1.23 graves / m 2 ). Since some of these graves are intersected by the presbytery , it can be deduced that those graves predate the gothic church . They were probably interred during the period of the timber or Romanesque church . Also notable is that there are hardly any people buried intramurally . Stratification shows that most graves that lie within the walls of the gothic church were originally buried outside ( Nater 2016 , 63-68 ).
All types of graves were spread across the cemetery , apart from the ladder coffins , which were located only in the eastern part of the cemetery ( fig . 5 ). Orientation could be determined for only
39 percent of the graves , because many graves were badly preserved . It turned out that most orientations appear across the cemetery . Only three graves were oriented from southwest to northeast , rather than northwest to southeast . These are all located more to the east and southeast of the church ( fig . 6 ). One of these was an older woman buried in a timber coffin . The others could not be sexed or aged , and were buried in an anthropomorphic and an unknown way .
The skeletons of 146 individuals were sufficiently preserved to be studied . Estimation of sex was possible in 63 individuals . When plotting the sexes on the map , it appeared that men and women were buried unsegregated ( fig . 7 ). In the area enclosed by the tower , females were buried right in front of the church doors and in extension of these . No males were recovered in this area , although most skeletons in the tower could not be sexed . As far as could be determined , the burials within the Romanesque church were all male . Both sexes were buried in all types of containers , apart from the ladder coffin , which was only used for males ( fig . 8 ).
Discussion There are several patterns visible within the cemetery of Reusel . The grave density in the area east of the Romanesque church presbytery suggests that this location was the most favourable place at the cemetery ( Blair 2005 , 471 ; Boddington 1996 , 36-
Amount of graves
Area ( m 2 )
Graves / m 2
second pres .
third pres .
north of first pres .
south of first pres .
Table 1 . The amount of graves per area and the population density of every area .