Cemetery Monuments

Strictly speaking a monument is a structure which commemorates the dead – it may be for one person or many thousands. It may have been built specifically for this purpose or has become a monument due to it’s history or associations. We tend to think of monuments as huge (as in ‘monumental‘) but this is not necessarily so. When we talk about cemetery monuments we need to remember that they are simply some form of memorial structure intended to commemorate a deceased person, persons, or family. They may be large and ornate such as the memorial at Jimi Hendrix grave. Or they may be small and unobtrusive like the Princess Diana grave monument which is a simple urn. They are still all cemetery monuments intended as memorials to our loved ones.


Conventional Cemetery Monuments.

cemetery monumentsHeadstones.

These are the most common form of cemetery monument and come in many styles and headstone designs – the most common being upright, slant, bevel and flat. It will usually be the upright headstone which can be designed to have highly elaborate and decorative shapes such as angels or other biblical figures.

The size of the tombstone will often be determined by the number of people buried beneath. It may be a single person, a couple or a whole family.

Estate Monuments.

These cemetery monuments differ from the family monuments mentioned above in that they are not actually headstones for graves. One would mark an area of a burial ground that is devoted to one whole family. It is likely to carry simply the family name (s) as opposed to each individual, and will be erected somewhere within the middle of the plot.

Ledgers.cemetery monuments

A Ledger is a slab – usually of granite – which is set up on kerbing and covers the grave. It may be one large slab or it could be comprised of many smaller ones. It is usually – but not always – accompanied by some form of gravestone.


cemetery monumentsMausoleums.

A mausoleum is a structure which encloses either the remains of the deceased person or the entrance to their burial chamber. The second of these is most usual in the case of a family whose remains are interred within the tomb one generation after another.

Memorial Benches.

Many headstones are comprised of a bench for the benefit of visiting family members and friends. But it has also been the custom for many years to provide a separate memorial bench to commemorate the life of a deceased person. It will be marked by a small plaque dedicating the bench to this person’s memory.

Of course there is no reason why the bench cannot be erected elsewhere such as a park or garden. But it is usual to site them within the cemetery itself. It is not necessarily immediately adjacent to the grave but certainly within site of it. As with the headstone bench, it enables friends and family to visit, sit quietly and remember the ones they miss.


Other Cemetery Monuments.

Memorial Trees.

cemetery monumentsWith the recent trend in using natural burial grounds, an alternative to the traditional headstone has been to plant a memorial tree. This will have a plaque attached to it in remembrance of the deceased.

Civic Monuments.

This type of monument is dedicated to a whole group of people or even an event. For this reason they tend to be larger and grander than most other monuments and will very often be situated within public areas other than cemeteries. Some of the most famous ones are those within Arlington Cemetery such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – or Tomb of the Unknowns as it is now called.


Please remember that all cemetery monuments require approval. Contact your local burial ground to discuss what is allowed under their cemetery rules and regulations.