church ( fig . 2 ). Around and in these church foundations , 492 graves and a series of other features were found . The establishment date of the cemetery is estimated to be in the second half of the tenth century CE , based on radiocarbon dates . Most excavated graves are from the tenth to thirteenth century , with some additions from later periods . The chronology of the cemetery and churches was determined based on stratigraphic relations and height values ( fig . 2 ). Burial started west of the timber church and continued on the south-eastern side of the church at the time of the Romanesque church . When this part of the cemetery became crowded , burial continued north and west of the church . In this period , a tower was added to the western side of the church . Eventually , the Romanesque church was replaced by a larger gothic church , while burial continued on the north-western side of this church . A few graves were presumably constructed within this church , although this is not entirely certain .
To find out to what extent differences between villages play a role in central medieval cemeteries , the graves and individuals at the cemetery of Reusel were analysed in terms of time of burial , location , orientation , morphology , sex and age . Patterns that appeared were then compared to other archaeological sites , and possible reasons for differences in patterns were attested . This article highlights some aspects of this research . The complete documentation of the research , including more details about the chronology of the cemetery , can be found in Nater ( 2016 ).
Burial within the Christian religion during the Central and Late Middle Ages During the Central and Late Middle Ages , Christianity became more and more institutionalised ( Arts et al . 2007 , 27 ; Janssens 2011 , 38 ). This had its impact on all aspects of life , including burial practices , for which regulations arose ( Blair 2005 , 463 ; Lauwers 1997 , 318 ; Theuws and Van Haperen 2012 , 165 ). Being buried in a favourable place at the cemetery was important , especially for high-status people ( Effros 1997 , 5 ). Who was to be buried where , was determined by the clergy ( Treffort 1996 , 188 ) or by the deceased ’ s kinsmen ( Boddington 1996 , 69 ).
Several patterns of burial differentiation are visible in medieval graveyards throughout Europe . People of very low status , such as criminals , lepers , excommunicates and unbaptised neonates , were often excluded from the communal graveyard ( Binski 1996 , 56 ; Bourin and Durand 2000 , 60 ; Gilchrist 2012 , 209 ; Lauwers 1997 , 221-2 ; Meier and Graham-Campbell 2013 , 434 ). In the tenth
Figure 1 . Location of Reusel in the Netherlands .
century CE , burial inside the church was exceptional ( Treffort 1996 , 138 ). Children ’ s graves often had their own part of the cemetery ( Daniell 1997 , 115 ; Gilchrist 2012 , 205 ; Pinhasi and Bourbou 2008 , 35 ; Saunders 2008 , 120 ), sometimes under the eavesdrop ( Daniell 1997 , 118 ; Treffort 1996 , 147 ). Other favourable places were the east of the church ( Blair 2005 , 471 ; Boddington 1996 , 36-7 ; Huijbers 2007 , 409 ) or the southern , sunny side of the church ( Blair 2005 , 471 ; Boddington 1996 , 36- 7 ; Huijbers 2007 , 409 ; Parker Pearson 1999 , 14 ).
Apart from location , the morphology of medieval graves is important . At most cemeteries , multiple types of grave structures appear both above and below ground . In the later Middle Ages , burial in a shroud , without a coffin , was very common ( Bourin and Durand 2000 , 60 ; Gilchrist 2012 , 200 ). However , in some cemeteries , e . g . Aalst ( Arts et al . 1998 , 33 ) and Eindhoven ( Arts 2013b , 130 ) coffin burials were more common . Differences may be related to the period the cemetery was in use or to the wealth of different parishes ( Binski 1996 , 55 ; Gilchrist 2012 , 200 ).