A brief history of the headstone

Many things become fashionable before fading away, but headstones have long been the best way to remember those we love.

Headstones and memorials are now available in a variety of sizes, patterns and shapes and can be decorated with religious imagery or other decorative designs, yet their purpose remains the same.

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The first tombstones

Tombstones or grave markers as they are more commonly known, are believed to date back as far as 3000 BC to the Roman and Celtic culture.

Markers were usually a megalithic monument that marked out communal burial and not as headstones are used today to mark a single grave.

In earlier times there were no cemeteries but instead people had a family plot near their home where all family members would be buried together.

Although the first gravestone had not yet been in evidence, it was reported back in 2013 that scientists discovered the first evidence of a floral tribute at a grave found at a prehistoric burial site from 13,700 years ago in Israel.

The evolution of church burial

According to research, church burial began to become popular in the 1650s, and it was this time that gravestones began to become more widespread.

Headstones and monuments made of slate or sandstone were prepared to commemorate the deceased and from this point in time, inscriptions began to be carved onto the slate.

Early inscriptions

The importance of headstones in honouring the dead became prominent throughout the 1800s and this is where inscription begins to become more widespread.

Headstones were now appearing with some words about the person who had died from loved ones or friends. The inscriptions would include a few details such as birth date, date of death and the deceased’s name.

Throughout the Victorian period, circa 1837-1901, monuments and gravestones became more detailed, elaborate and ornate with popular materials including marble, wood, steel and granite.

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Headstones for all

Throughout this period, the poorer classes began to create memorials to commemorate their dead too. No longer were headstones the preserve of the upper classes, who were previously the only ones who could afford to commemorate the deceased. For more information on Headstones, visit a site like Abbey Memorials Headstones.

War memorials

Today people can travel to countries such as France to see the beautiful war memorials that mark the lives of all the brave soldiers who sadly lost their lives in the world wars, but when did war memorials begin?

In the UK there are monuments to the Crimean War, which date back to 1853-1856. The concept of erecting war memorials, however, began after the Boer War in 1899-1902.

After the Boer War, statues and monuments were erected to celebrate the life of soldiers from the district who were killed during bloody battles. Since then, war memorials were created for the First World War, the Second World War and other wars since.

Since the beginning of the humble tombstone, where a number of stones used to show where the final resting place of the deceased is located, modern headstones have expanded to include items such as vases, memorial plaques and memorial kerb stones.

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