Stonework and masonry have played an important role in how people commemorate a person’s loss for thousands of years. If you go back to Ancient Egypt, you could argue that the pyramids were perhaps the boldest memorials in history - enormous stone monuments built to honor the passing of pharaohs.
A giant pyramid might seem far removed from a headstone placed at the graveside, but actually, the intentions behind building those monumental structures are similar to why you still choose stone to mark the passing of our loved one's today. Stone has the quality of permanence, as the age of the ancient pyramids proves. When you choose a memorial in masonry, you are opting for something which will last. The person might be gone, but their memory endures.
But wishing to leave a lasting tribute to the memory of a loved one is only part of the story. Once you decide on a stone memorial, there are other things to consider, including the style of the monument, what material to choose and what to put on the inscription. Here, West London memorial masons Kenward & Son talk us through some of the key things to consider.
What style of memorial should I choose?
There are many different types of stone memorial available. Traditional styles include the familiar churchyard headstone type, with variations on the theme including ‘canopy and column’ hearthstone-like designs and those adorned with crosses, angels and other figures. More modern styles include open book and heart-shaped designs. And then there is always scope to commission a mason to create something unique based on your own design.
Ultimately, your choice of memorial should be down to personal preference, what friends and relatives agree on and what you believe your loved one would have appreciated. The main restriction on the type of memorial you can have is the rules and regulations of the cemetery or churchyard you wish to erect it in. These vary from place to place. Local authorities will publish rules for council-owned cemeteries which will mainly focus on the size of headstones and memorials permitted. Private cemeteries and churchyards may have additional rules relating to the type of symbols allowed, for example.
What type of stone should I choose?
The two most common types of stone used for memorials are granite and marble. Both are particularly hard-wearing types of rock, which means your memorial should stand for many, many years, regardless of the impact of the elements. Out of the two, marble is preferred for the fact that it is easier to sculpt into specific shapes. Some people also like the naturally bright white color many marbles come in. However, marble is easier to work than granite because it is not quite as strong, which means it weathers at a faster rate. Granite is extremely tough, can be sourced in a range of colors, and lends itself well to polishing for an attractive, gleaming finish.
What should I put on the inscription?
As with the style of the monument you choose, your inscription really is down to your own personal preference. Some people prefer to keep things simple, with the name and dates of the deceased, and perhaps a simple one-line tribute or goodbye. Others like to expand this with lines of poetry, verses from the Bible or other religious texts, maybe even a brief outline of their life. Bear in mind, the longer the inscription, the more your memorial will cost.
There are also cases of paid-for memorials falling foul of the rules and regulations of the cemetery they are intended for because of the wording of the inscription. Together with confirming size and style restrictions, it is worth asking in advance, particularly in churchyards and other religious sites.