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Glossary of Headstone, Memorial and Cemetery Terms

Alternative Container:
An unfinished wood or non-metal box without decoration generally lower in cost than caskets.

Apex:
The top of a die sloping upwards to a point from the sides.

Arch:
In the case of memorials, an arch is usually a curved structure used as an opening or a support to a park, a garden or a memorial site.

Background:
A brief paragraph providing available details of the memorial.

Base:
The bottom part of a 2-piece headstone that supports the die.

Brownstone:
A trade term applied to a dark brown and reddish-brown sandstone. In headstones it is most commonly used as a base but can be used as a tablestone as well.

Bust:
A sculpture of someone's head, shoulders and chest.

Casket:
A box or chest for burying remains.

Cemetery Property:
A grave, crypt or niche.

Coffin:
A box or chest for burying remains.

Columbarium:
A structure with small spaces for placing cremated remains in urns.

Columns:
Slim, vertical columns usually made of stone or concrete.

Cremation:
Exposing the remains and the container encasing them to extreme heat.

Crypt:
A space in a mausoleum or other structure to hold remains.

Die:
The main part of the headstone that sits on the base.

Disposition:
The placement of remains in the final resting place.

Flaking:
A term used to indicate minor delamination of surfaces of stone which easily peel off in small layers.

Flat carving:
Shallow stone sandblasting to produce a design.

Flat Marker:
A headstone that lies flat on the ground usually made of granite or bronze.

Flat top:
Used when the top of the headstone is flat.

Front Nosing:
The perpendicular facing on the front bottom of the marker.

Frosted Panel:
The removal of some polished parts of a stone by sand-blasting usually for lettering boxes or design purposes.

Grave:
Space in the ground for the burial of remains.

Grave Liner:
A concrete cover that fits over a casket in a grave. Grave liners minimize ground settling.

Grave Marker:
A headstone that lies flat on the ground that is usually made of granite of bronze.

Graveside Service:
A service to commemorate the deceased held at the cemetery before burial.

Gothic:
A type of top which rounds up to a peak on the center line of the headstone.

Granite:
Granite is formed when extremely hot molten rock is cooled slowly. Granites of various texture and color have been discovered on every continent.

Grass Marker:
A headstone that lies flat on the ground usually made of granite or bronze.

Headstone:
A grave marker or monument marking the gravesite.

Inscription:
The writing cut or etched into a headstone or memorial.

Interment:
Burial in the ground.

Inurnment:
The placing of cremated remains in an urn.

Laminated Stone:
Stone built up in layers such as slate.

Limestone:
A sedimentary type of rock composed of calcite or dolomite or both, commonly used in gravestones and tomb structures.

Marble:
A rock made up largely of calcite or dolomite. The term includes many dense types of limestone and some rock dolomite. Additional minerals present in the rock account for the distinctive appearance that many types of marble possess.

Marker:
A headstone that lies flat on the ground usually made of granite or bronze.

Mausoleum:
A building in which remains are buried or entombed.

Memorial:
An object erected in memory of one or more individuals.

Memorial Service:
A ceremony commemorating the deceased without the body present.

Monolith:
A single headstone without a base.

Monument:
An upright memorial, a stone structure (or statue) erected to keep the memory of someone or something alive.

Niche:
A space in a columbarium or mausoleum to hold an urn.

Oval Top:
A half-curve top of a Headstone.

Perpetual Flame:
A flame kept burning in remembrance of someone.

Pillars:
Slim, vertical columns usually made of stone or concrete.

Plaque:
An ornamental tablet usually fastened to a memorial.

Polished:
A high gloss finish.

Roof Top:
The top of the headstone slopes up from the front and back and peaks at the center.

Sandstone:

Sedimentary rock composed of sand-sized grains naturally cemented by mineral material.


Sarcophagus:
An elaborate coffin usually made of cement or stone.

Sawn Edges:
Edges of markers or bases that are straight cut.

Sculpture:
A form created from various types of material.

Sedimentary Rock:
Rock formed from materials deposited as sediment in water or on the land.

Serpentine:
A raised curved surface on the top of the headstone.

Shaft:
A square column of stone or cement. A statue often sits on a shaft.

Shale:
A rock of clay or mud origin that is easily split into irregular curves or layers.

Shaped Carving:
A carving that uses either a double or triple sandblast technique (or hand carving).

Slab:
A flat memorial placed full length on the ground upon which a plaque or an inscription appears, which usually covers the whole grave.

Slant Marker:
A marker that is slanted and on a granite base.

Slate:
A hard, brittle, fine-grained homogeneous rock consisting mainly of clay minerals. Slate is a very stable stone.

Soapstone:
A soft rock that contains a high proportion of talc. Because soapstone contains talc it gives a smooth feeling like you are rubbing a piece of dry soap.

Spall:
A small fragment or chip of stone.

Statue:
The representation of a person, animal, or other object usually done in stone or metal.

Steeled:
A smoothed but not highly polished surface on a base.

Stele:
An ancient upright slab or pillar usually with an inscription or engraving.

Two Way Cut:
When the two sides of the top of the headstone peak at the center it is called a two way cut.

Urn:
A container that holds cremated remains.

Vault:
A grave liner that completely encloses a casket.

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