A gravedigger is a cemetery worker responsible for digging a grave prior to a funeral service. If the grave is in a cemetery on the property of a church or other religious organization (part of, or called, a churchyard), gravediggers may be members of the decedent's family or volunteer parishioners. Digging graves has also been one of the traditional duties of a church's sexton. In municipal and privately owned cemeteries, gravediggers may be low-paid, unskilled, and temporary laborers, or they may be well-paid, trained, and professional careerists, as their duties may include landscaping tasks and courteous interactions with mourners and other visitors.
A gravedigger implements a variety of tools to accomplish his primary task. A template, in the form of a wooden frame built to prescribed specifications, is often placed on the ground over the intended grave. The gravedigger may use a sod-cutter or spade to cut the outline of the grave and remove the top layer of sod. Digging the grave by hand usually requires shovels, picks, mattocks, and/or other tools. Cemeteries in industrialized countries may keep a backhoe loader and other heavy equipment, which greatly increases the efficiency of gravedigging.
In many cultures throughout history, gravediggers have been highly marginalized by their societies. In the traditional caste systems of India and medieval Japan, cemetery work has been the responsibility of the lowest castes, considered "unclean" or "untouchable" for their association with death.