Choosing the Right Type of Headstone

A picture of a grey stone headstone in a cemetery Click image to view full size
A picture of a grey stone headstone in a cemetery

Knowing which headstone to choose can be extremely difficult, especially during a tough, emotional time. With so many different types of headstones and memorials available, deciding on a style is never easy. That’s why we’ve put together a short guide on some of the different variations of headstones around to help you make a more informed decision.

How to Choose a Headstone

Things you need to consider when choosing the right type of headstone for your deceased loved one include: the shape and design, the material, the type of finish applied, and any inscriptions you would like to add. All while making sure that it is within your desired budget. It is always advisable to discuss your ideas and headstone designs with your chosen funeral director. They will be able to provide you with very useful advice and information, helping guide you through the process and the options available to you.

Headstone Designs

Headstone designs can be put into three categories: upright or standing headstones, flat headstones, and kerbed headstones – whichever you choose will depend on personal preference and budget.

Standing Headstones

Standing headstones, or upright headstones, appear as their name suggests. This common style of headstone consists of both the granite, limestone, or marble head piece and a solid, thick concrete base. The design of standing headstones is a traditional one. One that allows the chosen inscription to appear clearly and be easily identifiable.

A picture of standing headstones

Flat Headstones

Similarly, as the name suggests, these headstones lie flat on the ground. Their design means they usually only require one piece, making them quite a simple, straightforward style. They can either lie completely flat to the ground, or be raised slightly with the top higher than the bottom. Flat headstones come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes; the designs are numerous too.

Kerbed Headstones

Kerbed memorials are arguably the most different of all of our headstone examples. The piece covers the entire grave, and often features a flower bed at the foot of the actual headstone. The headstone itself is standing, while the rest of the piece protrudes out from the tablet’s base.

A picture of a light kerbed memorial with silver flower vase, crafted by stonemasons in Burton on Trent

Cremation Memorials

Cremation memorials are usually very similar to standing ones; their main difference is that they usually feature some sort of urn. The headstone and base will be designed so that the urn fits in with its surroundings. This type of headstone is a great option for anyone looking to commemorate their loved one in a traditional way, while still having opted for a cremation.

Headstone Materials

The most popular headstone materials are: granite, marble, limestone and bronze. Granite is an incredibly flexible and adaptable stone. It can be produced in a number of different colours and finishes, as well as proven to last. Marble has a fantastic finish; however, it is not always permitted in burial grounds due to its lack of strength and longevity. Limestone is a very popular and more traditional option, but it changes significantly over time. Similarly to marble, bronze isn’t always permitted in burial grounds. It one of the more expensive material options, but it is very durable.


Headstone Finish

When it comes to choosing the type of finish for a headstone, there are a few different ones available: polished, part-polished, honed or eggshell, and lastly, pitched. Polished quite literally ‘does what is says on the tin’; it has a smooth and shiny finish but will require some maintenance. It could also look slightly out of place in older graveyards. Again, part-polished is fairly self-explanatory. With this finish you can emphasise certain parts of the gravestone such as the inscription. Honed or eggshell finishes are achieved by removing a layer of polish, leaving the stone smooth and not shiny. A pitched finish gives a headstone a more aged look; this is particularly fitting if you want it to fit into a more traditional churchyard.

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Headstone Inscription

If your deceased loved one left no indication or guidance on what inscription they wanted it can be an overwhelming task. In particular, it can take time to think about what words to have written, what font you require, and whether you’d like the inscription directly inscribed onto the stone, or on a memorial plaque instead. 

Many people choose lines of poetry, religious texts or words that have consoled others in times of bereavement. Deciding on what words to have inscribed on a gravestone is often a big stumbling block for a lot of people. As inscriptions should be personal, it can be quite challenging to summarise, encapsulate a person’s life, something important to them, or about them in just a few sentences. That’s why we have collated some inscriptions ideas for you to have a look through.

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Cemetery/ Churchyard Regulations

It is important to note that some cemeteries and churchyards have specific regulations on the types of headstones that can be placed on a grave. Before deciding on a final design, make sure you check the requirements and regulations with the cemetery or church.

Contact Cope Memorials

We realise that this short guide won’t have made what you’re going through any easier, but hopefully it will provide you with a foundation and basic understanding of some of the different options available now. We’re always more than happy to help you choose the right type of headstone here at Cope Memorials; all you need to do is get in touch. You can give us a call on 01773 602 187, or fill out our online contact form.