Traditionally, materials like marble, granite, and fieldstone are used to make headstones to memorialize the dead. Manufacturers may use concrete, wood, bronze, sandstone, limestone, iron, and other similar materials, too.
Granite and bronze, in particular, are the most popular these days. Interestingly, bronze memorial headstones may also be available with a bronze flower vase for holding flowers. Apart from materials, the headstones usually feature different shapes, colors, finishes, and types of base.
“Death came with friendly care;
The opening bud to heaven conveyed,
And bade it blossom there.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Another important part of a headstone is the inscription. It usually includes the name, date of birth, and date of death of the deceased.
Besides, it may have simple inscriptions like, “Rest in peace”, “In loving memory”, “Eternally loved”, “Sadly missed”, “Sleeping with the angels”, etc. You may consider adding meaningful quotes and religious texts as well.
Popular Materials for Headstones
In earlier times, most headstones were made of slate as it is easy to carve. These aesthetically pleasing headstones, though, did not usually last long because they used to crumble over time due to the slightly porous nature of this material.
Fieldstone, too, was used to mark the graves because it was easy to mark. Furthermore, wood and cast iron headstones were also quite popular, especially during the Victorian era.
Nowadays, however, headstones are mostly made of granite. It is a beautiful and elegant natural stone. Moreover, this high-quality material is durable and hard yet cost-effective when compared to other materials.
Plus, granite can withstand extreme climates and even acid rain pollution. It is quarried in large bocks and then cleaned, polished, and shaped in the factories to prepare headstones.
Bronze is also being preferred now as it is sturdy and resistant to harsh weather. In fact, certain memorial parks and cemeteries allow only bronze grave markers and headstones. These headstones often have a granite base. Both these materials are easy to maintain.
Bronze is a copper alloy traditionally used to make tools and weapons. Unlike other materials, it helps add fine detailing in the design as tends to expand slightly when it is cast.
Marble, too, is a popular choice. However, it tends to erode over a period of time due to factors like moisture, thereby leaving the name and other details on the marker blurry and indistinct.
Limestone is another similar material that takes on carving well but tends to weather soon. Sandstone, too, is easy to carve on.
Headstones can be personalized by getting a photo of the deceased engraved on it with the method of laser engraving.
Besides, you can opt for shaped casting or sandblasting for getting beautiful and meaningful designs etched on the gravestone.
You may go for hand etching as well for an elegant and timeless appeal. It makes use of a diamond tipped tool for engraving directly onto the material. Moreover, you can choose from a variety of fonts and colors.
Cemeteries often inspect and maintain headstones or gravestones from time to time so that they may not topple or injure anyone.
Cochise College, Student Papers in Geology, Headstones