Last edited 23 Nov 2021


Crypt pixabay 640.jpg

A crypt (from the Greek ‘krypto’, which means hidden or concealed) is a vaulted room frequently made of stone and located beneath a building, usually a church or cathedral. Crypts can also be found in cemeteries, mausolea and chapels, as well as public buildings.

A crypt may be entirely or partly below ground. Occasionally, a crypt may be located at ground level, which would result in the entire building being raised.

Crypts may also be referred to as crofts or undercrofts, however, a croft under a house is not usually called a crypt, which over the centuries has taken more of a religious significance.

When under a church, crypts are usually contained within the limits of the choir or chancel and its aisles, but may be smaller in their subterranean extent, typically confined to just under the altar or the main apse.

The decoration and majesty that is often observed in churches and cathedrals is not usually carried through to the crypt, which is often executed in a much plainer style but nevertheless still well constructed.

Crypts originally emerged as part of French Romanesque architecture in the middle of the eighth century and then spread across much of Western Europe.

In the UK, crypts were often used as chapels and contained an altar and other necessary accessories required for the celebration of feasts. Sometimes, a crypt might be used to allow pilgrims a glimpse of a saint’s tomb or other holy remains and relics. Later, crypts were used more to contain the coffins of the deceased.

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