How much does a headstone cost and what types can I choose?

Burial polished granite headstone at grave

Headstones are very important for people of certain faiths and cultures. Many see them as a way to remember and pay tribute to a person who has died. For these people, a headstone is like a final connection with their loved one – a place to be visited, cared for and cherished.

If you’re planning a funeral and you want a headstone, it’s worth knowing about the different types available and how much they cost. This way, you can make sure you factor the price into your funeral budget and can afford the design you want.

What is a headstone?

A headstone is a monument that marks a person’s grave.

Headstones come in lots of shapes and sizes and are usually made of a type of stone, such as granite or marble. They’re often inscribed with details like the person’s name and the date they died. Sometimes, they include poems, written tributes or photographs of the person.

Headstones are an important tradition for many Muslims, Christians and Jews. Some faiths, like Sikhism, don’t typically allow headstones. Cremated remains are sometimes buried and marked with a small headstone, or they might be kept in an urn or scattered in a special place.

What is the average price of a headstone?

In 2021, the average cost of a memorial such as a headstone was £1,024 (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. As a rule of thumb, flat or slanted headstones are the cheapest, starting at around £400. The most popular design – the upright headstone – usually costs between £800 and £1200. Kerbed headstone prices can be £2000 or more. This is because these designs tend to be larger and more intricate.

There are ways to save money when choosing a headstone. You could choose a smaller memorial, opt for a less expensive material or have fewer words inscribed on the stone. You could also 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.

What are the different types of headstones?

There are three main kinds of headstones:

  • Upright headstones: the most traditional design. These above-ground headstones are tall monuments that sit at the heads of graves.
  • Kerbed headstones: these feature lines of stone that form a border around the edges of a grave. Because of their size and complexity, kerbed headstones are among the most expensive types of headstones.
  • Flat and slanted headstones: these small memorial headstones can be level with the ground or raised to a slant from the rear.

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 cheap and durable, making them the most popular choice.

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.

There are other finishes available, such as axed, blued and shell rock. However, these are much less common.

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.

 

Funeral Choice is a free resource that helps people plan a funeral online. For more support, visit our advice centre.

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

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