Headstone
Overview
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave
Grave
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried.Grave may also refer to:*Grave accent, a diacritical mark*Grave , a term used to classify sounds*Grave , a term for "slow and solemn" music*Grave , an old name for the kilogram...

. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

.
The stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

 (plural stelae
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

), as they are called in an archaeological context, is one of the oldest forms of funerary art
Funerary art
Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside...

. Originally, a tombstone was the stone lid of a stone coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

, or the coffin itself, and a gravestone was the stone slab that was laid over a grave
Grave (burial)
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries....

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave
Grave
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried.Grave may also refer to:*Grave accent, a diacritical mark*Grave , a term used to classify sounds*Grave , a term for "slow and solemn" music*Grave , an old name for the kilogram...

. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

.

Use

The stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

 (plural stelae
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

), as they are called in an archaeological context, is one of the oldest forms of funerary art
Funerary art
Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside...

. Originally, a tombstone was the stone lid of a stone coffin
Coffin
A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation.Contemporary North American English makes a distinction between "coffin", which is generally understood to denote a funerary box having six sides in plan view, and "casket", which...

, or the coffin itself, and a gravestone was the stone slab that was laid over a grave
Grave (burial)
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries....

. Now all three terms are also used for markers placed at the head of the grave. Originally graves in the 18th century also contained footstones to demarcate the foot end of the grave. Footstones were rarely carved with more than the deceased's initials and year of death, and many cemeteries
Cemetery
A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

 and churchyard
Churchyard
A churchyard is a patch of land adjoining or surrounding a church which is usually owned by the relevant church or local parish itself. In the Scots language or Northern English language this can also be known as a kirkyard or kirkyaird....

s have removed them to make cutting the grass easier. Note however that in many UK cemeteries the principal, and indeed only, marker is placed at the foot of the grave.

Graves, and any related memorials are a focus for mourning
Mourning
Mourning is, in the simplest sense, synonymous with grief over the death of someone. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviours in which the bereaved participate or are expected to participate...

 and remembrance. The names of relatives are often added to a gravestone over the years, so that one marker may chronicle the passing of an entire family spread over decades. Since gravestones and a plot in a cemetery or churchyard cost money, they are also a symbol of wealth or prominence in a community. Some gravestones were even commissioned and erected to their own memory by people who were still living, as a testament to their wealth and status. In a Christian context
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, the very wealthy often erected elaborate memorials
Church monument
A church monument is an architectural or sculptural memorial to a dead person or persons, located within a Christian church. It can take various forms, from a simple wall tablet to a large and elaborate structure which may include an effigy of the deceased person and other figures of familial or...

 within churches rather than having simply external gravestones. Crematoria frequently offer similar alternatives to families who do not have a grave to mark, but who want a focus for their mourning and for remembrance
Memorial
A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for memory of something, usually a person or an event. Popular forms of memorials include landmark objects or art objects such as sculptures, statues or fountains, and even entire parks....

. Carved or cast commemorative plaque
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

s inside the crematorium for example may serve this purpose.

Materials

A cemetery
Cemetery
A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

 may follow national codes of practice or independently prescribe the size and use of certain materials, especially in a conservation area. Some may limit the placing of a wooden memorial to six months after burial, after which a more permanent memorial must be placed. Others may require stones of a certain shape or position to facilitate grass-cutting by m, or hand-held cutters. Headstones of granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

, marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 and other kinds of stone
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 are usually created, installed, and repaired by monumental masons
Monumental masonry
Monumental masonry is a kind of stonemasonry focussed on the creation, installation and repairs of headstones and other memorials.- Cultural significance :...

. Cemeteries require regular inspection and maintenance, as stones may settle, topple and, on rare occasions, fall and injure people; or graves may simply become overgrown and their markers lost or vandalised
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

.

Restoration is a specialized job for a monumental mason
Monumental masonry
Monumental masonry is a kind of stonemasonry focussed on the creation, installation and repairs of headstones and other memorials.- Cultural significance :...

. Even overgrowth removal requires care to avoid damaging the carving. For example, ivy should only be cut at the base roots and left to naturally die off, never pulled off forcefully.
Many materials have been used as markers.

Stone

  • Fieldstones. The earliest markers for graves were natural fieldstone
    Fieldstone
    Fieldstone is a building construction material. Strictly speaking, it is stone collected from the surface of fields where it occurs naturally...

    , some unmarked and others decorated or incised using a metal awl
    Bradawl
    A bradawl is a tool with a blade similar to that of a straight screwdriver and a handle made from wood or plastic. A bradawl is used to make an indentation in wood or other materials in order to ease the insertion of a nail or screw...

    . Typical motifs for the carving included a symbol and the deceased's name and age.
  • Granite. Granite
    Granite
    Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

     is a hard stone and requires skill to carve by hand. Modern methods of carving include using computer-controlled rotary bits and sandblasting over a rubber stencil. Leaving the letters, numbers and emblems exposed on the stone, the blaster can create virtually any kind of artwork or epitaph.
  • Marble and limestone. Both limestone
    Limestone
    Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

     and marble
    Marble
    Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

     take carving well. Marble is a recrystallised form of limestone. The mild acid in rainwater can slowly dissolve marble and limestone over time, which can make inscriptions unreadable. Portland stone
    Portland stone
    Portland stone is a limestone from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries consist of beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major...

     was a type of limestone commonly used in England—after weathering, fossiliferous deposits tend to appear on the surface. Marble
    Marble
    Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

     became popular from the early 19th century, though its extra cost limited its appeal.
  • Sandstone. Sandstone
    Sandstone
    Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

     is durable, yet soft enough to carve easily. Some sandstone markers are so well preserved that individual chisel marks are discernible, while others have delaminated
    Delamination
    Delamination is a mode of failure for composite materials. Modes of failure are also known as 'failure mechanisms'. In laminated materials, repeated cyclic stresses, impact, and so on can cause layers to separate, forming a mica-like structure of separate layers, with significant loss of mechanical...

     and crumbled to dust. Delamination occurs when moisture gets between the layers of the sandstone. As it freezes and expands the layers flake off. In the 17th century, sandstone replaced field stones in Colonial America
    Colonial America
    The colonial history of the United States covers the history from the start of European settlement and especially the history of the thirteen colonies of Britain until they declared independence in 1776. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major...

    . Yorkstone
    Yorkstone
    Yorkstone is a term for a variety of sandstone, specifically from quarries in Yorkshire that have been worked since medieval times, but now applied generally. Yorkstone is a tight grained, Carboniferous sedimentary rock...

     was a common sandstone material used in England.
  • Slate. Slate
    Slate
    Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism. The result is a foliated rock in which the foliation may not correspond to the original sedimentary layering...

     can have a pleasing texture but is slightly porous and prone to delamination. It takes lettering well, often highlighted with white paint or gilding
    Gilding
    The term gilding covers a number of decorative techniques for applying fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. A gilded object is described as "gilt"...

    .


Metal, wood and plants

  • Iron. Iron
    Iron
    Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

     grave markers and decorations were popular during the Victorian era
    Victorian era
    The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

     in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     and elsewhere, often being produced by specialist foundries or the local blacksmith
    Blacksmith
    A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

    . Cast iron
    Cast iron
    Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

     headstones have lasted for generations while wrought iron
    Wrought iron
    thumb|The [[Eiffel tower]] is constructed from [[puddle iron]], a form of wrought ironWrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon...

    work often only survives in a rusted or eroded state.
  • White bronze. Actually sand cast zinc
    Zinc
    Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

    , but called white bronze for marketing purposes. Almost all, if not all, zinc grave markers were made by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, CT, between 1874 and 1914. They are in cemeteries of the period all across the U. S. and Canada. They were sold as more durable than marble, about 1/3 less expensive and progressive.
  • Wood. This was a popular material during the Georgian
    Georgian era
    The Georgian era is a period of British history which takes its name from, and is normally defined as spanning the reigns of, the first four Hanoverian kings of Great Britain : George I, George II, George III and George IV...

     and Victorian era
    Victorian era
    The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

    , and almost certainly before, in Great Britain
    Great Britain
    Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

     and elsewhere. Some could be very ornate, although few survive beyond 50–100 years due to natural decomposition.
  • Planting. Trees or shrubs, particularly roses, may be planted, especially to mark the location of ashes. This may be accompanied by a small inscribed metal or wooden marker.


Inscriptions

Markers usually bear inscriptions
Monumental inscription
A monumental inscription is an inscription, typically carved in stone, on a grave marker, cenotaph, memorial plaque, church monument or other memorial....

: epitaph
Epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

s in praise of the deceased or quotations from religious texts, such as "requiescat in pace". In a few instances the inscription is in the form of a plea, admonishment, testament of faith, claim to fame or even a curse — William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's inscription famously declares;
Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosèd here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.


Or a warning about Mortality
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

, such as this Persian poetry carved on an ancient tombstone in the Tajiki capital of Dushanbe
Dushanbe
-Economy:Coal, lead, and arsenic are mined nearby in the cities of Nurek and Kulob allowing for the industrialization of Dushanbe. The Nurek Dam, the world's highest as of 2008, generates 95% of Tajikistan's electricity, and another dam, the Roghun Dam, is planned on the Vakhsh River...

.
I heard that mighty Jamshed the King
Carved on a stone near a spring of water these words:
"Many – like us – sat here by this spring
And left this life in the blink of an eye.
We captured the whole world through our courage and strength,
Yet could take nothing with us to our grave."


Or a simpler warning of inevitability of death:
Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare for death and follow me.

The information on the headstone generally includes the name of the deceased and their date of birth and death. Such information can be useful to genealogists
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 and local historians
Local history
Local history is the study of history in a geographically local context and it often concentrates on the local community. It incorporates cultural and social aspects of history...

. Larger cemeteries may require a discreet reference code as well to help accurately fix the location for maintenance. The cemetery owner, church, or, as in the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, national guidelines might encourage the use of 'tasteful' and accurate wording in inscriptions.

Headstone engravers faced their own "Year 2000 problem
Year 2000 problem
The Year 2000 problem was a problem for both digital and non-digital documentation and data storage situations which resulted from the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits.In computer programs, the practice of representing the year with two...

" when still-living people, as many as 500,000 in the United States alone, pre-purchased headstones with pre-carved death dates beginning 19–.

Bas-relief carvings of a religious nature or of a profile of the deceased can be seen on headstones dating from before the 19th century. Since the invention of photography, a gravestone might include a framed photograph
Photograph
A photograph is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of...

 or cameo of the deceased; photographic images or artwork (showing the loved one, or some other image relevant to their life, interests or achievements) are sometimes now engraved
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 onto smooth stone surfaces.

Some headstones use lettering made of white metal fixed into the stone, which is easy to read but can be damaged by ivy or frost. Deep carvings on a hard-wearing stone may weather many centuries exposed in graveyards and still remain legible. Those fixed on the inside of churches, on the walls
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

, or on the floor (often as near the altar
Altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...

 as possible) may last much longer: such memorials were often embellished with a monumental brass
Monumental brass
Monumental brass is a species of engraved sepulchral memorial which in the early part of the 13th century began to partially take the place of three-dimensional monuments and effigies carved in stone or wood...

.

Marker inscriptions have also been used for political purposes, such as the grave marker installed in January 2008 at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

 by Mathew Prescott, an employee of PETA
Peta
Peta can refer to:* peta-, an SI prefix denoting a factor of 1015* Peta, Greece, a town in Greece* Peta, the Pāli word for a Preta, or hungry ghost in Buddhism* Peta Wilson, an Australian actress and model* Peta Todd, English glamour model...

. The grave marker is located near the grave of KFC
KFC
KFC, founded and also known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, is a chain of fast food restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States. KFC has been a brand and operating segment, termed a concept of Yum! Brands since 1997 when that company was spun off from PepsiCo as Tricon Global...

 founder Harland Sanders and bears the acrostic
Acrostic
An acrostic is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message. As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. A famous...

 message “KFC tortures birds.” The group placed its grave marker to promote its contention that KFC is cruel to chickens.

Form and decoration

Gravestones may be simple upright slabs with semi-circular, rounded, gabled, pointed-arched, pedimental, square or other shaped tops. During the 18th century, they were often decorated with memento mori
Memento mori
Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die". It names a genre of artistic work which varies widely, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality...

(symbolic reminders of death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

) such as skull
Human skull
The human skull is a bony structure, skeleton, that is in the human head and which supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.In humans, the adult skull is normally made up of 22 bones...

s or winged skulls, winged cherub heads, heavenly crowns, urns or the picks and shovels of the grave digger. Somewhat unusual were more elaborate allegorical figures
Allegorical sculpture
Allegorical sculpture refers to sculptures that symbolize and particularly personify abstract ideas as in allegory.Common in the western world, for example, are statues of 'Justice', a female figure traditionally holding scales in one hand, as a symbol of her weighing issues and arguments, and a...

, such as Old Father Time
Father Time
Father Time is usually depicted as an elderly bearded man, somewhat worse for wear, dressed in a robe, carrying a scythe and an hourglass or other timekeeping device...

, or emblem
Emblem
An emblem is a pictorial image, abstract or representational, that epitomizes a concept — e.g., a moral truth, or an allegory — or that represents a person, such as a king or saint.-Distinction: emblem and symbol:...

s of trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

 or status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

, or even some event from the life of the deceased (particularly how they died). Later in the same century, large tomb chests or smaller coped chests were commonly used by the gentry
Gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

 as a means of commemorating a number of members of the same family. In the 19th century, headstone styles became very diverse, ranging from plain to highly decorated. They might be replaced by more elaborately carved markers, such as cross
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

es or angels. Simple curb surrounds, sometimes filled with glass chippings, were popular during the mid-20th century.

Some form of simple decoration is once more popular. Special emblems on tombstones indicate several familiar themes in many faiths. Some examples are:
  • Anchor
    Anchor
    An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the vessel from drifting due to wind or current. The word derives from Latin ancora, which itself comes from the Greek ἄγκυρα .Anchors can either be temporary or permanent...

    - Steadfast hope
  • Angel of grief
    Angel of Grief
    Angel of Grief is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story which serves as the grave stone of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery, Rome....

    - Sorrow
  • Arch
    Arch
    An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

    - Rejoined with partner in Heaven
    Heaven
    Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

  • Birds - The soul
    Soul
    A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

  • Book
    Book
    A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

    - Faith, wisdom
  • Cherub
    Cherub
    A cherub is a type of spiritual being mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and cited later on in the Christian biblical canons, usually associated with the presence of God...

    - Divine wisdom
    Wisdom
    Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and...

     or justice
    Justice
    Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

  • Column
    Column
    A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

    - Noble life
  • Broken column
    Column
    A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

    - Early death
    Death
    Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

  • Conch shell
    Conch
    A conch is a common name which is applied to a number of different species of medium-sized to large sea snails or their shells, generally those which are large and have a high spire and a siphonal canal....

    - Wisdom
    Wisdom
    Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one's emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and...

  • Cross
    Cross
    A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

    , anchor
    Anchor
    An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the vessel from drifting due to wind or current. The word derives from Latin ancora, which itself comes from the Greek ἄγκυρα .Anchors can either be temporary or permanent...

     and Bible
    Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

    - Trials, victory and reward
  • Crown
    Crown (headgear)
    A crown is the traditional symbolic form of headgear worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, immortality, righteousness, victory, triumph, resurrection, honour and glory of life after death. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to...

    - Reward and glory
  • Dolphin
    Dolphin
    Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

    - Salvation, bearer of souls to Heaven
  • Dove
    Dove
    Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

    - Purity, love and Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

  • Evergreen
    Evergreen
    In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

    - Eternal life
  • Garland
    Garland
    A garland is a class of decoration, of which there are many types.Garland may also refer to:-Places:*Garland, Arkansas, a town in Miller County*Garland County, Arkansas*Garland, Maine, a town in Penobscot County...

    - Victory over death
  • Gourd
    Gourd
    A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term 'gourd' however, can more specifically, refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita or also to their hollow dried out shell...

    s
    - Deliverance from grief
  • Hands - A relation or partnership (see Reference 3)
  • Heart
    Heart
    The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

    - Devotion
  • Horseshoe
    Horseshoe
    A horseshoe, is a fabricated product, normally made of metal, although sometimes made partially or wholly of modern synthetic materials, designed to protect a horse's hoof from wear and tear. Shoes are attached on the palmar surface of the hooves, usually nailed through the insensitive hoof wall...

    - Protection against evil
    Evil
    Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

  • Hourglass
    Hourglass
    An hourglass measures the passage of a few minutes or an hour of time. It has two connected vertical glass bulbs allowing a regulated trickle of material from the top to the bottom. Once the top bulb is empty, it can be inverted to begin timing again. The name hourglass comes from historically...

    - Time and its swift flight
  • IHS
    Christogram
    A Christogram is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a Christian symbol. Different types of Christograms are associated with the various traditions of Christianity, e.g...

    - Stylised version of iota
    Iota
    Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 10. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh . Letters that arose from this letter include the Roman I and J and the Cyrillic І , Yi , Je , and iotified letters .Iota represents...

    -eta
    ETA
    ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

    -sigma
    Sigma
    Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and carries the 'S' sound. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 200. When used at the end of a word, and the word is not all upper case, the final form is used, e.g...

    , a Greek abbreviation of Jesus; alternatively treated as an initialism for "in Hoc Signo (VInces)" -- "In this sign you shall conquer."
  • Ivy
    Ivy
    Ivy, plural ivies is a genus of 12–15 species of evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woody plants in the family Araliaceae, native to western, central and southern Europe, Macaronesia, northwestern Africa and across central-southern Asia east to Japan and Taiwan.-Description:On level ground they...

    - Faithfulness, memory, and undying friendship
  • Lamb
    Domestic sheep
    Sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries...

    - Innocence
    Innocence
    Innocence is a term used to indicate a lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, sin, or wrongdoing. In a legal context, innocence refers to the lack of legal guilt of an individual, with respect to a crime.-Symbolism:...

  • Lamp
    Oil lamp
    An oil lamp is an object used to produce light continuously for a period of time using an oil-based fuel source. The use of oil lamps began thousands of years ago and is continued to this day....

    - Immortality
    Immortality
    Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

  • Laurel
    Bay Laurel
    The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

    - Victory, fame
  • Lily - Purity and resurrection
    Resurrection
    Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

  • Lion
    Lion
    The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

    - Strength, resurrection
    Resurrection
    Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

  • Mermaid
    Mermaid
    A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

    - Dualism of Christ
    Christ
    Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

     - fully God
    God
    God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

    , fully man
    Man
    The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

  • Oak
    Oak
    An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

    - Strength
  • Olive branch
    Olive branch
    The olive branch in Western culture, derived from the customs of Ancient Greece, symbolizes peace or victory and was worn by brides.-Ancient Greece and Rome:...

    - Forgiveness, and peace
  • Palms - Martyr
    Martyr
    A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

    dom, or victory over death
  • Peacock - Eternal life
  • Pillow
    Pillow
    A pillow is a large cushion support for the head, usually used while sleeping in a bed, or for the body as used on a couch or chair. There are also throw pillows , which are pillows that are purely decorative and not designed for support or comfort...

    - a deathbed, eternal sleep
  • Poppy
    Poppy
    A poppy is one of a group of a flowering plants in the poppy family, many of which are grown in gardens for their colorful flowers. Poppies are sometimes used for symbolic reasons, such as in remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime....

    - Eternal sleep
  • Rooster
    Rooster
    A rooster, also known as a cockerel, cock or chanticleer, is a male chicken with the female being called a hen. Immature male chickens of less than a year's age are called cockerels...

    - Awakening, courage and vigilance
  • Shell - Birth
    Childbirth
    Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

     and resurrection
    Resurrection
    Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

  • Star of David
    Star of David
    The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles...

    - The God
    God
    God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

  • Skeleton
    Skeleton
    The skeleton is the body part that forms the supporting structure of an organism. There are two different skeletal types: the exoskeleton, which is the stable outer shell of an organism, and the endoskeleton, which forms the support structure inside the body.In a figurative sense, skeleton can...

    - Life's brevity
  • Snake
    Snake
    Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

     in a circle
    - Everlasting life in Heaven
  • Swallow
    Swallow
    The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding...

    - Motherhood
  • Broken sword
    Sword
    A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

    - Life cut short
  • Crossed swords - Life lost in battle
  • Torch
    Torch
    A torch is a fire source, usually a rod-shaped piece of wood with a rag soaked in pitch and/or some other flammable material wrapped around one end. Torches were often supported in sconces by brackets high up on walls, to throw light over corridors in stone structures such as castles or crypts...

    - Eternal life if upturned, death if extinguished
  • Tree trunk
    Trunk (botany)
    In botany, trunk refers to the main wooden axis of a tree that supports the branches and is supported by and directly attached to the roots. The trunk is covered by the bark, which is an important diagnostic feature in tree identification, and which often differs markedly from the bottom of the...

    - The beauty of life
  • Triangle
    Triangle
    A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

    - Truth, equality
    Egalitarianism
    Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

     and the trinity
  • Shattered urn
    Urn
    An urn is a vase, ordinarily covered, that usually has a narrowed neck above a footed pedestal. "Knife urns" placed on pedestals flanking a dining-room sideboard were an English innovation for high-style dining rooms of the late 1760s...

    - Old age, mourning if draped
  • Weeping willow - Mourning
    Mourning
    Mourning is, in the simplest sense, synonymous with grief over the death of someone. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviours in which the bereaved participate or are expected to participate...

    , grief


Greek letters might also be used:
  • (alpha
    Alpha (letter)
    Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 1. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Aleph...

     and omega
    Omega
    Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means "great O" , as opposed to omicron, which means "little O"...

    ) - The beginning and the end
  • (chi
    Chi (letter)
    Chi is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, pronounced as in English.-Greek:-Ancient Greek:Its value in Ancient Greek was an aspirated velar stop .-Koine Greek:...

     rho
    Rho (letter)
    Rho is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 100. It is derived from Semitic resh "head"...

    ) - The first letters spelling the name of Christ

Safety

Over time a headstone may settle or its fixings weaken. After several instances where unstable stones have fallen in dangerous circumstances, some burial authorities "topple test" headstones by firm pressure to check for stability. They may then tape them off or flatten them.

This procedure has proved controversial in the UK, where an authority's duty of care
Duty of care
In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence. The claimant...

 to protect visitors is complicated because it often does not have any ownership rights over the dangerous marker. Authorities that have knocked over stones during testing or have unilaterally lifted and laid flat any potentially hazardous stones have been criticised, after grieving relatives have discovered that their relative's marker has been moved.
Since 2007 Consistory Court
Consistory court
The consistory court is a type of ecclesiastical court, especially within the Church of England. They were established by a charter of King William I of England, and still exist today, although since about the middle of the 19th century consistory courts have lost much of their subject-matter...

 and local authority guidance now restricts the force used in a topple test and requires an authority to consult relatives before moving a stone. In addition, before laying a stone flat, it must be recorded for posterity.

See also

  • Epitaph
    Epitaph
    An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

  • Gravestone rubbing
    Gravestone rubbing
    Stone rubbing is the practice of creating an image of surface features of a stone on paper. The image records features such as natural textures, inscribed patterns or lettering. By rubbing hard rendering materials over the paper, pigment is deposited over protrusions and on edges; depressions...

  • Khachkar
    Khachkar
    A khachkar or khatchkar is a carved, cross-bearing, memorial stele covered with rosettes and other botanical motifs. Khachkars are characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian art found in Armenia.-Description:...

  • Mausoleum
    Mausoleum
    A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

  • Megalith
    Megalith
    A megalith is a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. Megalithic describes structures made of such large stones, utilizing an interlocking system without the use of mortar or cement.The word 'megalith' comes from the Ancient...

  • Sarcophagus
    Sarcophagus
    A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

  • Scottish gravestones
    Scottish gravestones
    The Scottish or Lowland Scottish gravestone is unique to the north of the British Isles. The study of Scottish Lowland Gravestones is essential to the overall study of British monumental inscriptions. The level of symbolism and detail on Scottish stones reached a peak during the 18th century.-...

  • Stećak
    Stecak
    The Stećci , are monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the border parts of Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. An estimated 60,000 are found within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of 10,000 are found in Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro...

  • Stele
    Stele
    A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

  • The Devil's Chair (urban legend)
    The Devil's Chair (urban legend)
    The term devil’s chair in folklore is frequently attached to a class of funerary or memorial sculpture common in the United States during the nineteenth century and often associated with legend tripping. Nineteenth century graveyards sometimes included carved chairs for the comfort of visitors...

  • Tombstone tourist
    Tombstone tourist
    Tombstone tourist describes an individual who travels to visit cemeteries for the enjoyment of looking at old and unusual stones or to find the graves of famous people...

  • Viewlogy
    Viewlogy
    Viewlogy-Electronic Biographical Gravestone was the first commercially offered computerized memorial that could be installed into a gravestone or a cremation urn...



External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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