(WYTV) – Why do we bury bodies six feet under?
The six feet under rule for burial may have come from a plague in London in 1665. The Lord Mayor of London ordered all the “graves shall be at least six-foot deep.”
The order never said why six feet. Maybe deep enough to keep animals from digging up corpses.
Soil is different around the world and six feet is probably as far as you can dig down before the sides start caving in.
Another explanation suggests six feet was the maximum depth a gravedigger could stand and still manage to toss dirt out of the grave using a shovel, or get in and out of the grave without needing a ladder.
Six feet also helped keep bodies out of the hands of body snatchers. Medical schools in the early 1800s bought cadavers for anatomical study and dissection, and some people supplied the demand by digging up fresh corpses.
Gravesites reaching six feet helped prevent farmers from accidentally plowing up bodies.
And you had the “rule of thumb,” origin unknown, that said graves should be as deep as the dead person is tall.
Today, individual states set the depth of a grave. Many say 18 inches of dirt, just a foot-and-a-half, on top of the casket lid or burial vault is fine. That’s not six feet down, it’s four feet.