Interesting Headstone Facts That You Must Know

Throughout the history of human civilization, different cultures mourn and treat death differently. But burial was a common practice in many cultures. In the US, for decades burial was preferred over cremation and there was also the trend of using a headstone to mark a grave. Usually a headstone is installed in a cemetery in order to preserve the memory of a loved one with beauty and dignity.

Headstones also known as memorial stones, grave markers, gravestones, and tombstones are used throughout the world in order to mark the gravesite of a person. Basically the main purpose behind installing a headstone on a gravesite is to memorialize the life of a deceased.

To help you understand about headstone, here are some interesting headstone facts:

  • The importance of headstone in history can be traced back to Roman and Celtic cultures where descriptive headstones were used.
  • The symbols used in the headstone in the colonial period reflected the religious belief system of a particular place.
  • During ancient times headstones were made from fieldstones or pieces of wood.
  • Originally, the lid of a coffin made of stone used to be the headstone that was laid over a grave. 
  • In the18th century, along with a headstone, footstone was also used to demarcate the foot end of the grave.
  • In the past, names of relatives were added to a gravestone over the years, so that one headstone can memorialize the entire family.
  • In some places, people used to place heavy stones over the body so that animals cannot uncover the shallow grave. These stones also worked as headstones.
  • The Neanderthal graves covered with large rock piles or boulders are regarded as the oldest headstones in the world. These headstones are some 20,000-75,000 years old.
  • The ‘garden’ cemetery established in Paris in 1804 is the first place where headstones and memorials with elaborate works were used.
  • In the 80’s the social status of the deceased determined the size and artistry of the headstone used in his grave.
  • Also headstones with skeletons and demons were used in the past to instill fear of the afterlife in the living.
  • The beginning of the nineteenth century witnessed a new trend in headstone designs with cherubs and angels leading the deceased upward.
  • Early headstones were made out of slate, and then marble headstones came in the scene and soon became very popular.
  • By 1850, granite headstone came in the news and even today granite is the first choice amongst buyers due to its resilience and accessibility.
  • Epitaphs used in headstone were usually some scripture quotes, Bible verses or humorous statements.
  • All stones are machine polished and carved but the fine details are given by hand.

Today headstones can provide basic vital information or story of a unique historical event. In fact the history of a community can be read through the headstones.

Well, even though cremation is getting popular in the US, the importance of headstones will always be there in the society. People still visit graveyards to show their respect to their ancestors and some even study headstones in order to gather information about their culture and age old traditions.

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One Response

  1. mary
    mary at | | Reply

    Thank you for the headstone information.
    I came across a grave stone with three chain links etched on it. The dates were 1844-1897. I think the stone was granite and it was polished. It was only about a foot high.
    I was hoping you would be able to tell me anything more?
    Thank you

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