Headstones found are the eternal markers of life, providing a physical connection to our loved ones who have passed away. Though they may seem simple in design, there is a lot of history, symbolism, and meaning behind these stones. In this blog post, we will explore 11 facts about headstones that you may not have known.
1. The History of Headstones
The first headstones were plain fieldstones that marked the graves of the deceased. These early headstones were often uninscribed, and their only purpose was to delineate the boundaries of the grave. As time went on, more elaborate headstones began to be used.
Today, headstones come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. They can be basic or ornate and inscribed with whatever text the family chooses. Many people have a photo of the deceased engraved on the headstone, along with a brief message or quote.
2. The Purpose of Headstones
Headstones as Memorials
A headstone is a memorial to the life of the deceased person. The headstone may also contain a quote or message from family members or friends. Headstones help family and friends remember and celebrate the life of their loved ones.
3. The Design of Headstones
Traditional Headstone Designs
Traditional headstone designs are straightforward and elegant, often featuring a cross or another religious symbol. The most common headstone design is the upright memorial, a rectangular stone that stands upright on a base.
Contemporary Headstone Designs
Contemporary headstone designs are more innovative and unique, often incorporating personal symbols and images. Contemporary headstone designs are becoming more popular as people move away from traditional designs. The new designs are often more personal and reflective of the person’s life. They can be made from a variety of materials, including stone, glass, metal, and even wood.
4. The Materials Used in Headstones
Common Headstone Materials
The most common headstone materials are granite, marble, and sandstone.
· Granite is the most popular choice for headstones because it is durable and available in a wide range of colors.
· Marble is also a popular choice for headstones because it is elegant and classic looking.
· Sandstone is a less popular choice for headstones because it is not as durable as granite or marble.
5. The Inscription on Headstones
Headstone inscriptions include the name, dates of birth and death, and sometimes a brief message or quote. Many headstones also include religious symbols or icons. In addition to the standard information on most headstones, many people add personal touches with more unique inscriptions. This might include a quote or poem, an inside joke between spouses, or even a photo etched into the stone.
6. The Symbolism of Headstones
Many symbols are commonly found on headstones. Perhaps the most common symbol is the cross, which represents Christianity. Other common symbols include
· Angels, which represent protection and guidance.
· Doves, which represent peace.
· Hearts, which represent love.
· Anchors, which represent hope.
In addition to common symbols, many people choose to have personal symbols inscribed on their headstones. These symbols can be meaningful to the individual or their loved ones and can be chosen for a variety of reasons. Some examples of personal symbols include flowers (which can represent a favorite flower or the birth month), animals, and hobbies.
7. The Maintenance of Headstones
Basic Headstone Maintenance
Basic headstone maintenance is relatively simple and only requires a few supplies readily available at most hardware stores.
1. First, you will need a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the headstone. A mild soap can be used if needed but be sure to rinse the stone well afterward to avoid any damage.
2. Next, you will need a clean cloth to wipe the stone and remove any remaining residue.
3. Finally, you will need a sealant designed specifically for headstones to protect the stone from weathering and staining.
8. The Cost of Headstones
The Price of Headstones
The price of a headstone varies depending on the design, material, size, and other factors. Simple designs of materials like granite start at around $500, while more elaborate designs can cost several thousand dollars.
9. The Size of Headstones
Standard Headstone Sizes
The size of a headstone is generally dictated by the cemetery or burial ground in which they will place it. There are, however, some standard sizes that are used. The most common size for a single grave is 24″ x 12″ x 6″. This size can accommodate a small inscription and one or two symbols. A double grave usually requires a headstone that is 36″ x 12″ x 6″. This size can accommodate a larger inscription and two to three symbols.
Custom Headstone Sizes
Custom headstone sizes are available, but they may be subject to additional fees and require approval from the cemetery or burial ground. Custom sizes are often necessary for large families or when there is a desire to include a large or detailed inscription or symbol on the headstone.
10. Durability of headstones
Headstones are exposed to the elements and are subject to weathering. Over time, the sun, wind, and rain can cause headstones to crack, fade, or even topple over. Extreme weather can also damage headstones. For example, hurricanes can uproot headstones, and earthquakes can crack them.
11. The Reuse of Headstones
We can upcycle headstones into many things. Some people have made bird baths, benches, and chandeliers out of old headstones. We can also recycle headstones into aggregate material that is to be used in construction projects. This is a great way to give back to the earth and ensure that your loved one’s headstone will live on.
As the eternal markers of life, headstones play an important role in the memorialization of the dead. With proper maintenance, they can last for centuries, providing comfort and solace to grieving loved ones. No matter their size or weight, headstones are durable symbols of our love and remembrance.