For thousands of years, headstones have served as markers to indicate where family members have been buried. But in fact, before the time of cemeteries, people buried their loved ones near their family homes and marked the burial spot often times with wood or works. In early religions, these piles of rocks and wood were placed upon gravesites as a means to "keep the dead from rising."
However, the term "headstone" arose from a Jewish tradition whereby visitors showed a mark of respect by laying a stone at the head of a grave. They were usually marked with the names of the deceased, their ages and years of passing.
17th Century: Church Graveyards
When church cemeteries began to replace personal burial grounds, larger vertical tombstones began to be used to mark graves. These originally were made from slate, and in future years would be made of sandstone, both of which were relatively easy to inscribe names, dates, and inscriptions on.
During the 18th century, graves were covered with iron cages called mortsafes which was replaced during the end of the Victorian era with marble, granite, iron and wood. During this time, the lower classes of society began to commemorate their loved ones graves, whereas previously only middle and upper classes used gravestones of this nature.
During the 19th century, public burial grounds came into being and families starting personalizing gravestones as a tribute to their loved ones, engraving short epitaphs and personal details onto more elaborate and decorative grave markers. Favorite prayers were often times etched into grave markers, as well as simple religious symbols.
Today, there are thousands of varieties of headstones to choose from. Families can choose the type of stone (granite headstones are the most popular in America). They can choose color, style, shape, size, lettering, inscriptions, depth of carvings, polish types, edging styles, and much more. Many families choose to include certain religious symbols that have meaning for the departed. Certain artwork and sculptures also become part of the burial grounds: saints, hearts, roses, clovers, angels and doves are very common. These are often times seen by family members to keep their loved ones burial ground safe, and also act as reverend reminders of the love they hold for their deceased loved ones. Laser engraving has become a new popular request of many customers. Families can now have specific photographs (taken from their iphones, tablets, digital cameras, or Facebook) placed on their granite headstone. Customers can also choose to have them done in color. It is a beautiful option that is rising in popularity. Headstones have evolved over thousands of years. As technology evolves over the next decade, it will be interesting to see how headstones evolve with it.
By: Ryan Durkin. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form here if you have any questions about this blog post.