If you’re planning a funeral and you want a headstone for a loved one, it’s worth knowing about the different types available and how much they cost. This way, you can make sure you factor headstone costs into your funeral budget and can select the design you want.
Here, we’ll take you through the average cost of a headstone in the UK, the different types of headstone available, and how the cost of a headstone can be affected by the design and material used.
What is the average cost of a headstone in the UK?
In 2022, the average cost of a memorial such as a headstone was £1,064 (SunLife). This made it the most expensive of all the optional extras for a funeral. It cost more than twice as much as catering and nearly 5 times as much as funeral flowers.
That said, there are several types of headstones available and some cost more than others.
Here’s a quick rundown of the different types available and a rough look at the price of headstones. It’ll give you an initial idea of what to expect:
|Type of headstone||Cost of headstone|
|Flat or slanted headstones||Start at around £400|
|Upright headstones||Between £800 and £2,000|
|Kerbed headstones||Around £2,000 or more|
What affects the cost of a headstone?
The cost of a headstone in the UK can be affected by a lot of different factors. Here’s a list of the types of things that will affect the price you pay:
- Type of headstone
- Size of the headstone
- Materials used
- Whether the design is basic or more intricate
- Any extras you choose such as engravings or flower vases
- The cemetery you choose and any regulations they enforce
Comparing headstone costs by style
Now you have an initial idea of headstone prices it may help to show you the different types in more detail, and how this can affect the cost. There are a lot of options. So if this is the first time you’re choosing a headstone, whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, it’ll help you understand what’s available and which type is best for you.
Flat and slanted headstones
- Start at around £400
- Most affordable headstone
- Typically used for the burial of cremated ashes
- Can have extras added like engravings at an extra cost
These small memorial headstones (sometimes known as a cremation headstone) can be level with the ground or raised to a slant from the rear. They’re usually made of granite or other natural stone materials. Because of their simple design they’re most commonly chosen by people who want a simple memorial or for cremated ashes that are buried. They can have other details added to them such as engravings or flower vases, but they can be left very simple too.
- Between £800 and £2,000
- The most traditional design
- A more expensive option than flat or slanted headstones
- Can be left simple or have engravings, etchings, and other flourishes
These above-ground headstones are tall monuments that sit at the heads of graves. And they’re what most people think of when picturing a traditional cemetery. They’re usually made from granite but can be made from other materials like marble and sandstone. Engravings and etchings can be added to the headstone to commemorate the person who’s died. This can be kept simple – perhaps just the name of the person and their date of birth and death. Or they can be more detailed with quotes, epitaphs, images or religious symbols added.
- £2000 or more
- The most expensive option
- Usually features a headstone and a border around the outline of the grave
- A more elaborate design that can include a lot more extras like etchings and flower vases due to the sheer size of the memorial
These feature lines of stone that form a border around the edges of a grave. They can be made from a variety of materials including granite, marble and limestone. And the border can either be filled with coloured chippings or a slab of stone where more engravings can be added. Alternatively, some people choose to add soil so that flowers can be planted and regularly tended to. Because of their size and complexity, kerbed headstones are among the most expensive types of headstones.
How does material affect the cost of headstones?
Headstones can be made from quite a few materials. Upright and kerbed headstones normally have a concrete base, while the headstone itself is made from either granite, marble or limestone. Granite gravestones are durable, making them the most popular choice. But they typically can be slightly more expensive than marble and limestone gravestones. This is also because granite is harder than marble and limestone making it more difficult to cut into shape. Slate is sometimes used for headstones too. But it is a more expensive options as it’s harder to source.
Here's a list of the different materials used for headstones, from cheapest to most expensive, and some things to consider when choosing which material to use:
|Material||Rough cost of headstone||Things to consider|
|Marble, sandstones and limestones||Between £800 and £2,000||This type of stone is quite light in colour and is considered a soft stone. This means it can quickly take on moss and algae after about a year of being installed. And it can change in colour too. Some people don’t mind this as it blends into its environment, but some might prefer to have it cleaned regularly.|
|Granite||Between £800 and £2,500||Commonly used for headstones because it’s hard-wearing and easy to keep clean. It can be polished to a high shine or with a more matte finish. It’s also available in a variety of colours from black and black to greens, reds and blues with speckles.|
|Slate||Between £1,000 and £3,500||Slate is less readily available so tends to be more expensive. But it naturally weathers and blends into the surroundings which some people may prefer. Depending on where the slate is sourced from it can be a grey or green colour.|
What finishes are available?
As well as choosing a design and material, you’ll need to select a finish for the headstone. The following choices are available:
- Polished: smooth, shiny and often reflective, polished headstones need frequent cleaning and maintenance.
- Part-polished: these headstones are only polished around their inscription. This helps draw attention to the words inscribed.
- Honed: this eggshell finish is achieved by removing part of the polish with dust, creating a smooth, matte look.
- Pitched: created using a hammer and chisel, this technique gives a rustic, old-fashioned effect.
- Sawed: created using a diamond saw or wire, this technique results in a semi-smooth finish that looks hand-crafted.
- Steeled (frosted): created using steel shot, this is a sand-blasted finish that’s smooth but not reflective.
How much does it cost to install a headstone in the UK?
The cost of installing a headstone can vary depending on the cemetery you choose and who is responsible for it. For example, some council-owned cemeteries may include the installation fee as part of the overall cost. But a parish-owned cemetery may add this as an additional cost, which could push the overall price of a headstone up. Keep in mind that when you buy a burial plot that you lease it for a set period of time so this can affect the cost too.
For more info on burial plots and their associated costs read our article: How much does a burial cost?
How much does it cost to get a headstone engraved?
The cost to get a headstone engraved depends on how many letters are used. This is because most memorial masons will charge a cost per letter. You may find that some masons will not charge for the first 50-80 letters but then will charge per letter thereafter. Each memorial mason may charge slightly differently depending on the style used and how intricate the process is. So it’s always a good idea to compare costs if you can or ask your funeral director for more details.
How to save on the cost of headstones
There are ways to save money on headstone prices. Make sure you discuss all your options with either your funeral director or the memorial mason you choose. This will help you keep headstone costs down if you need to. Here are a few suggestions that might help:
- Compare suppliers as their costs will vary
- You could choose a smaller memorial
- Opt for a less expensive material
- Have fewer words inscribed on the stone
- Choose a simpler finish
And remember: you don’t have to buy a headstone straight away. In most cases, you’ll need to wait at least 6 months after the burial before a headstone can be put up. Some people install an inexpensive wooden marker or plaque instead, then replace it with a headstone when they can afford it or have decided what they’d like.
Get more help choosing a headstone
The types of headstones you can choose will depend on what’s available in your area and any rules for the burial ground where the person is buried. For example, some older cemeteries or churchyards have restrictions on the type of stone or style of memorial that can be used.
It’s a good idea to talk to local headstone makers (also known as memorial masons) for advice. Your funeral director may be able to recommend a memorial mason. Another option is to use the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons.
Worried about headstone prices?
If you’re worried about funeral costs and you’re not sure how to cover the cost of a headstone, make sure you explore all your options. Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for support from the government, or you may be able to get help from charities that help pay for headstones in the UK. For more info read our article on how to get help with funeral costs.