What are headstones made of?

Whichever style of headstone you choose as a memorial to your departed loved one, the headstone can be made from a wide variety of materials. You could opt for granite, marble, fieldstone, sandstone, iron, bronze, slate or even wood. While the vast majority of funeral headstones are made from stone, whatever material is chosen the term ‘headstone’ can in fact be used as a generic term for a memorial marker on a resting place – regardless of whether your loved one has been buried or cremated.

Which material is best for a headstone?

The material you choose for a headstone depends upon a number of factors including personal taste and choice of design, as some materials are better suited to being carved into intricate, detailed headstones, while others lend themselves to simpler designs.

Any headstone is built to be a lasting memorial to a much-loved person, so it is worth selecting a material that will last for generations to come. Among the most hard-wearing and durable materials for headstones are granite and marble. Granite in particular will withstand many years of weathering.

Why is granite used for headstones?

Granite is not only a strong and durable stone but a beautiful one too, which comes in several colours including black, light grey, blue pearl and bahama blue. It can also be polished or honed (matte), offering a wide variety of options. Stonemasons can carve unique and high-quality designs into granite, safe in the knowledge that it will look elegant and maintain its appearance for decades to come. 

Why is marble used for headstones?

Marble has a distinctive and uniquely striking appearance, its natural white colour standing out brightly on even dull weather days. This makes it a popular choice for headstones – however, it is more prone to becoming dirty over time than granite, and can be susceptible to the effects of rain in the long term. While a marble headstone remains a popular choice, it requires a slightly higher level of maintenance. 

Can headstones only be used for burial graves?

Headstones do not only have to be for burials. With the right permission, a headstone can be used as a memorial marker for the burial of cremated remains, or in some rare cases even purely as a memorial without any remains being interred. Every burial ground and cemetery has its own rules, so take a look at our guide to cemeteries and crematoriums in Hertfordshire to find a suitable site near you. 

What types of headstone are there? 

Whatever your chosen material, there are a number of different types of headstone that you can opt for. 

Upright headstones

upright headstone

These are commonly made from granite or marble and fixed into a concrete base. They are the most traditional design and are often of a standard height of around 3 feet, which allows plenty of space to include your chosen inscription, pictures and any other features you wish to be incorporated into the design.

Kerbed headstones

kerbed memorial

These are memorials which include a traditional headstone but also run the full length of a grave. They allow ample space for additional personal expression as well as the inscription on the main headstone. The space across the grave can be used to plant flowers or bushes or place items of special significance.

Cremation memorials


cremation memorial

While certain burial grounds will allow you to use other types of memorial to mark the site where cremation ashes are buried, smaller cremation memorials are an enduringly popular choice which offer ample space for pictures, inscriptions and other commemorative features. Many feature a smaller version of the traditional upright headstone.