A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a stele or marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. They are traditional for burials in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions, among others. 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, but they may contain pieces of funerary art, especially details in stone relief. In many parts of Europe insetting a photograph of the deceased in a frame is very common.
A monument is a type of structure that was explicitly created to commemorate a person or event, or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or as an example of historic architecture. The term is often applied to buildings or structures that are considered examples of important architectural or cultural heritage.
Granite. Granite 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.
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 (symbolic reminders of death) such as skulls 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, such as Old Father Time, or emblems of trade or status, or even some event from the life of the deceased (particularly how they died). Large tomb chests, false sarcophagi as the actual remains were in the earth below, or smaller coped chests were commonly used by the gentry 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, and often using crosses on a base or other shapes differing from the traditional slab. They might be replaced by more elaborately carved markers, such as crosses or angels. Simple curb surrounds, sometimes filled with glass chippings, were popular during the mid-20th century.
Islamic headstones are traditionally more a rectangular upright shaft, often topped with a carved topknot symbolic of a turban; but in Western countries more local styles are often used.
Some form of simple decoration may be employed. Special emblems on tombstones indicate several familiar themes in many faiths.
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