When a loved
one passes away, making sure that the funeral arrangements are dignified and
memorable is extremely important. Choosing the right headstone is arguably even
more critical because it acts as the lasting memory of the one you’ve lost. The
engravings need to stand the test of time and represent the deceased’s life for
generations to come.
have long been a traditional way to remember our loved ones. Tombstones date
back to around 3000 BC and were first used in Roman and Celtic societies.
Originally, stone memorials were large monuments built to mark an entire burial
site, rather than an individual grave as we see them today. As time went on,
individual graves were common, however, they’d often be on a family’s plot of
land or near their home. In the mid-15th century, churchyard burials became
popular for the wealthier sectors of society, but by the 19th century, engraved
headstones were completely widespread, even amongst working class families who
otherwise may not have been able to afford them.
bury or cremate our loved ones and commemorate them with headstones erected in
churchyards or council-run graveyards. Family and friends use the stone as a
place to mourn and remember the one they’ve lost.
perfect headstone to commemorate your loved one can be a difficult process-
there are lots of options available and it’s essential that you choose a design
that suits you and your family. Below, we explore the range of headstone styles
and materials and also take a look at popular designs for inscriptions and
thing you’ll need to decide on is the size and shape of the headstone. This
depends on the amount of text you’d like engraved and whether you’d like to add
any images or symbols to the stone too. Let’s take a look at the most popular
headstone styles available:
headstones are the most traditional option and are very popular here in the UK.
An upright headstone is fixed to the ground on a concrete base, and the stone
itself can be made from a range of materials, however granite, marble or
limestone are the most popular stones to use. They are ideal for inscribing a
decent amount of text and the top edge can be shaped to suit your taste.
headstones give a similar effect to upright headstones as they offer plenty of
space to engrave words and images. Flat headstones can either be flush with the
ground or slightly raised on a slant. They’re usually made from granite or
bronze and work well in areas where the weather conditions are harsh.
headstones are full-length headstones that lie flat on the ground and mark the
perimeter of the grave. They often feature an upright headstone at the top end
to include inscriptions and images. A kerbed headstone leaves more space for
personal expression and many families opt for a kerbed headstone so that they
can plant flowers and erect sculptures to add a unique finish to the plot.
loved one was cremated rather than buried, a cremation memorial is an
alternative to an upright headstone. However, instead of a flat piece of stone,
a cremation memorial is hollowed out in order to feature the vase for the
ashes. You have the option to choose the design of the vase, as well as the
memorial itself. Cremation memorials are sometimes used for entire families’
ashes, rather than one individual.
benches are a specific type of cremation memorial and again are often used to
remember entire families rather than one individual; larger benches have space
for up to six people’s ashes. Benches are the more elaborate of the cremation
memorials and sometimes feature sculptures or unique engravings. They tend to
be more expensive as they require a larger plot, however, they offer the ideal
place for family and friends to spend time in quiet contemplation and mourning.
thing to decide on is what the headstone is actually going to be made from.
Across the world, there are plenty of different headstone materials available
including iron, white bronze and wood. Here in the UK, headstones are most
commonly made from stone, of which there are a few particularly popular
choices. It’s important to find out from your chosen graveyard what materials
they accept; churchyards often have stricter rules about headstone materials in
order to maintain continuity throughout the plot.
the most popular stone used for headstones as it’s the most cost-effective and
is available in a variety of colours; granite can be anything from green or red
to grey or whiteish-pink. It’s a durable, hard stone that stands the test of
time so requires a skilful stonemason to carve by hand. However, with recent
advancements in technology, contemporary carving methods use
computer-controlled rotary bits or sandblasting over a rubber stencil to create
a professional finish. If you plan to place the memorial stone in a churchyard,
you’ll find that granite is most probably one of your only options.
Marble is a
recrystallised form of limestone which is light and bright with blue and grey
colouring. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, it also has a lovely smooth
texture, making it look and feel particularly elegant compared to other stone
types. However, mild acid rain can slowly dissolve marble over time meaning
that if the headstone has inscriptions, the writing can become difficult to
read. Because of this, marble headstones aren’t ideal in particularly damp
areas, and bear in mind that most churchyards won’t permit marble gravestones.
another particularly popular material for headstones. English varieties like
Purbeck and Portland limestone are commonplace, however, if you live somewhere
that has a local limestone, creating a headstone from your local stone adds a
personal touch. Like marble, mild acid rain can affect inscriptions on
limestone and it’s also common to see fossiliferous deposits forming on the
surface. However, limestone is permitted in most churchyards and offers a range
of colours and textures. For a limestone headstone that’s lighter in colour,
you could opt for an Italian limestone like Narbesina or Auresina.
Slate is a
brilliant alternative to granite if you want a headstone that not only stands
out, but also stands the test of time. Slate has a beautifully smooth texture
and takes to carving very well. For even more of an impact, you could also
highlight the carved areas with white paint or gilding. Whilst slate is prone
to delamination, generally, it’s a very durable material that will act as a
lasting memory of your loved one for many years to come.
decided on the style and material of the headstone, the final and most
important step is to choose what you’d like to have engraved. The inscription
which commemorates your loved one on a headstone is known as the epitaph; you
can also include images or symbols if you wish. The engravings can be
hand-carved, lasered or sandblasted onto your chosen stone and can be finished
with gilding or highlighting if desired.
engraved onto a headstone are extremely important. They should be concise,
dignified and a perfect summary of your loved one’s life. Usually, an epitaph
consists of the name of the deceased and their date of birth and death. This
is, however, the minimum; many families opt for a more elaborate inscription
which includes a common phrase, a line of poetry or a bible passage. Remember,
this is your opportunity to add something truly personal to the headstone, so
consult close family and friends about what they think is the best way to
remember the one they’ve lost.
comes to the font, the choice is yours, however, roman, old English or a
script-like font are the most popular choices. The name and dates are usually
in bold capital letters, with any additional text in a lighter italic style.
Some fonts require a more skilled stonemason, however, now that we have laser
and sandblasting engraving machines, almost any design is achievable.
engraving into the stone itself, you could opt for a zinc or bronze memorial
plaque. This option works well for flat and kerbed headstones and allows for a
longer epitaph if desired; stone carving tends to be priced per letter or per
Images are a
unique and personal addition to any headstone. In some parts of Europe,
headstones can feature photographic images using full-colour ceramics, however,
this is a less traditional design here in Britain, where engraved symbols are
more popular. Different symbols have different meanings- below we list just a
few popular headstone images and what they represent:
●A book – faith and wisdom.
●Hands – a relationship or
partnership, ideal for a joint headstone.
●An oak tree or leaf – strength and
●An olive branch – forgiveness or
●A swallow – motherhood.
●A poppy – eternal sleep.
headstone symbols and meanings, go to headestonesymbols.co.uk
Normington & Sons, we offer bespoke funeral arrangement services, with
everything from funeral transportation
and funeral flowers
to memorials and headstones
expert stonemasons can create stunning headstones that are beautifully engraved
with your chosen epitaph, providing a truly unique and meaningful commemoration
of your loved one.
If you’re looking for understanding and empathic
support throughout your own funeral arrangements or the arrangements of a loved
one, please don’t hesitate to get
with our friendly and professional team. We’ll
make sure that everything is handled with the utmost care, ensuring the funeral
itself, as well as the lasting memorial headstone, is a fitting tribute for
many years to come. You can call us any time of day or night on 01226 700760 or
fill in a form on our contact