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 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. 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 3 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.