Memorial headstones are a permanent marker used to commemorate the life of a deceased person. Headstones are placed at, or near, the burial site and inscribed to identify the person who is laid to rest. Memorial headstones have been used for centuries to permanently memorialize individuals.
Memorial headstones come in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles. Typically headstones are made from durable materials that will last for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. The best quality headstones will be able to sustain the elements for a long period of time and be a permanent memorial to your loved one.
Numerous types of materials can be used as memorial headstones. The material you choose will drastically affect the price and longevity of the headstone. The following lists are the most common materials and types of memorial headstones that can be used to commemorate the life of a deceased person.
Memorial Headstones – Materials
Today, granite is the most popular material for memorial headstones. Granite is one of the worlds most beautiful and durable materials, making it a perfect choice for a headstone. Historically, granite was not commonly used because it was very difficult to carve. However, modern methods of carving make it easy to have virtually any type of text or imagery inscribed on the stone.
Marble is easier to carve than granite and used to be the most common type of headstone. However, marble will deteriorate faster than granite, which can make inscriptions difficult to read over time (hundred’s of years).
Limestone is another material that is easy to crave and was very popular hundred’s of years ago. Limestone will slowly dissolve when exposed to the mild acid in rainwater and will not last as long as marble or granite.
Sandstone can be used as a headstone because it is durable and easy to carve. However, when using sandstone there is a risk of delamination, which occurs when moisture gets between the layers of stone. As the moisture freezes it causes the water to expand and layers of the stone break off.
Slate is similar to sandstone because it is porous. It is also at risk of delamination. However, it can make a very beautiful memorial headstone because of its texture and color.
Bronze is a common type of memorial headstone because of its longevity and lower cost compared to granite. A bronze plaque is typically attached to a headstone to produce a beautiful memorial for a loved one.
Wood can be used as a headstone because of its low cost and the ease of carving. Wood headstones will typically only last 50 to 100 years and are not a good choice for a permanent memorial.
Planting a tree or other plant in remembrance of a loved one is becoming common. Especially if the tree is planted where there person’s ashes are buried. A plaque or other monument can also accompany a planted memorial.
Memorial Headstones – Shapes
Flat markers are very common because of their lower cost due to less material required. Flat markers are almost always a rectangular shaped, but custom designs are available.
A slanted monument is a cross between a flat marker and upright monument. The slanted monument is raised slightly off the ground and slanted forward making it higher in the back and shorter in the front.
Upright headstones are one of the most popular monuments and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A typical headstone is rectangular, but can also be shaped like an angel, heart, cross or custom design.
A companion monument can be flat, slanted or upright. It will be longer in length and have room to commemorate the life of two people, typically a husband and wife.
Choosing from the numerous types of memorial headstones can be challenging. The first step is to decide on your budget, because this may limit the types of headstones you can choose from. Next, you should select the material type and design. We recommend that you speak to the cemetery first to see if they have any regulations on the monument shape and size.
Updated: January 20, 2013