Coming from the Latin word ‘cophinus’ – which translates into basket – the coffin has featured in funeral services in Europe since 700 AD when, according to history, the Celts began fashioning burial boxes with flat stones.

Despite these origins in stone, the majority of people ever since have either been wrapped in a shroud or buried in a wooden box and, until recently, the choice of coffin remained a relatively simple one: what kind of solid wood or veneer would a family prefer, which metal would the handle be made of and what colour and type of fabric would they choose for the interior?

However, as with so many other aspects of the funeral service, increased consumer interest in funerals as celebration of life and demand for personalisation has changed coffin design almost beyond all recognition.

Once a product supplied solely through the funeral director, the coffin is now a consumer commodity and can be designed and bought online by families themselves, personalised with photos or images representative of the person who has died and created in any shape conceivable to reflect the interests of the person inside it.

Read the full story in July’s Funeral Director Monthly.