Anyone preparing to memorialise a loved one through a headstone might wonder “What do you write on a headstone?” or “What do headstones usually say?”
Lodge Bros is here to answer these questions and more.
We have established ourselves among the leading stonemasons in Melbourne, Australia. With experience in the local memorial industry since the 1920s, we are confident in our knowledge about headstones. Learn more about the elements of a high-quality headstone from this post.
Introduction Into Headstone Terminology
Understanding the different terminology is important when it comes to headstones and what to write on them. Here are some common terms associated with headstone inscriptions that you may encounter when getting a headstone or monument.
- Burial Monuments: These are structures that mark graves. These could be raised headstones, flat stone slabs, or statues. They can be as elaborate or simple as you decide, as long as they honour the memory of the deceased person.
- Headstones: These are markers placed at the head of graves. These stones usually stay on top of a base. This base contains inscriptions detailing the deceased’s name, birth date, death date, and dedications.
- Inscription: These are the words engraved on headstones or tablets on statues. Loved ones of a deceased person can have additional inscriptions engraved on a headstone or monument. Some people might want to add inscriptions to add more dedications, for example.
Wording of a Headstone Inscription
What do headstones usually say? Traditionally, a person’s gravestone includes:
- Name: Full names are necessary for headstones. Generally, a headstone must feature the full name that the deceased went by until their time of death. As such, it may be different from their assigned name at birth. Similarly, it could include the deceased’s maiden name if that makes them more recognizable to loved ones.
- Dates: Birth and death dates typically appear in any headstone or dedication. You might notice some headstones featuring only the deceased’s birth and death years. It depends on how you intend to honour your loved one.
- Epitaph: Short messages can accompany the deceased’s name and dates. Epitaphs can be a final dedication from the deceased’s surviving loved ones. “Forever Loved” and “Forever in our hearts” are common epitaphs. It could also be a quote or lyrics that meant something dear to the deceased.
Inscriptions are important for any memorial, whether it is a headstone or large monument. These words serve as final messages that celebrate the deceased’s life. It mostly benefits the loved ones who visit the gravesite. As such, it is up to you to select the best words that reflect your lost loved one.
Choosing inscriptions can be difficult. After all, you are setting the words in stone, so you naturally would want to get them right the first time. When you’re choosing one, it’s important to remember that you can take all the time you need. Consider speaking with professional stonemasons for suggestions.
What Do Headstones Usually Say?
Typically, the most difficult part of writing a headstone inscription is the epitaph. Thankfully, you can take plenty of inspiration from what others commonly write on headstones:
- Quotes: If your loved one had a favorite quote or you feel there is one that embodies their life, then this can be a great choice.
- Bible Verses: If your loved one was religious, then much like the quotes, you can choose one that embodied their life or a verse that was their favourite. Alternatively, some choose Bible verses that showcase their loved one’s hope of life after death. This can also apply to other religious texts as well.
- Life Roles: Many epitaphs reference the life of the loved one and the role they played in the lives of others. For example, an epitaph could mention that a loved one was a soldier, a friend, a father, and a husband. These roles can be either symbolic or literal, depending on the family’s preferences.
- Classic Epitaphs: Alternatively, you could choose to go with a classic epitaph, such as “Rest in Peace” or “In Loving Memory.” These epitaphs are great at getting a message across without being overly wordy. They are simple, concise, and effective.
Style and Design of a Headstone Inscription
Headstone inscription designs determine how the final monument will look like. They create the stone’s entire look, separating your loved one’s headstone from the others in the cemetery. There is no competition, but it will help to have a unique headstone to avoid getting lost.
How much a headstone will cost also depends on its inscription style. If the writing is stylistically complex, it may take longer to create. Here is a closer look at the different styles and costs of headstone inscriptions.
Headstone Inscription Styles
Headstone inscription styles involve the lettering font, the kind of stone engraving, and extra symbols. These elements play key roles in making your loved one’s memorial as unique and true to them as possible.
Choosing a font for your loved one’s headstone requires some thought. There are some fonts that need deep cuts because of how they look. Other fonts may be more suitable for longer names. It all depends on the headstone size and your intentions. Headstones tend to feature at least one of the following font categories:
- Serif Fonts: Notice how some lettering styles include decorative lines at the corners of the letters? These small decorations are known as serifs. Headstones tend to feature them since they are readable with a stylistic element to them. Times New Roman is a popular go-to font for headstones.
- Sans Serif Fonts: “Sans serif” means “without serifs.” So, fonts in this category do not have the decorative lines branching out of a letter’s basic form. Some people may find the lines distracting, thus would opt for the standard letter shape. These typefaces are just as easy to read as their serif counterparts.
- Gothic Fonts: These fancy letter designs are also known as Old English fonts. Gothic fonts are elaborate, combining thin and broad strokes to achieve a dramatic effect. These fonts can also have serifs that swirl around the letter’s basic form, serving as the headstone’s highlight.
- Script Fonts: Fonts in this category resemble calligraphy. You may opt for a script font to give your loved one’s headstone a touch of personality. These handwritten fonts may suit the epitaphs you want inscribed on the headstone. However, keep in mind that they may hinder readability.
Headstone Engraving Design
You have a handful of engraving styles to choose from for your headstone inscriptions. Engraving refers to how the stonemason carves the letters onto the headstone. Certain engraving styles work better for specific stones than others. Similarly, some engraving styles may be easier to maintain than others. Stonemasons typically offer the following headstone engraving designs:
- Standard Engraving: Stonemasons achieve lettering in this style by cutting into the headstone directly.
- V-Cut Engraving: Also known as hand engraving, stonemasons take standard engraving practices further with this style. They use a hammer and chisel to give the carved letters a deep v-cut.
- Raised Engraving: Also known as embossed engraving, stonemasons sandblast the area around the letters. This makes the engraving raised, giving it a 3-D effect.
How Much Do Headstone Inscriptions Cost?
Stonemasons have unique rates that they base on specific factors, which normally include:
- Number of Letters: How many letters are involved in the final piece? More words mean the stonemason will carve more letters, making the final headstone more expensive. You could also pay extra if you decide to have the letters filled with colour. Enamel paint will be more affordable than gold leaf, but gold leaf lasts longer against the elements.
- Extra Symbols and Photos: You can speak with a stonemason to include religious symbols or engrave photos of the deceased on the tombstone. These special characters and add-ons will likely cost more than the rate for the regular alphabet.
- Lines: How many lines will there be on the stone? Much like adding more letters, more lines will be more expensive.
Overall, the complexity of your headstone inscription will determine your expenses. Be sure to discuss exactly what you want to achieve with your loved one’s memorial.
How to Find a Headstone Mason
You can find professional headstone masons in Australia through Lodge Bros. We are proud to be among the country’s premier stonemasons. Our professionals have been working in the burial industry since the 1920s, giving us more than enough time to master our craft.
We extend our services beyond creating high quality headstones. Our stonemasons are ready to create statues and monuments in a loved one’s memory. Allow us to memorialise your deceased loved one’s grave site how they deserve it.
Fill out our enquiry form to discuss your headstone goals. We are ready to craft a fair quote that meets your budget. You may also connect with our professionals by calling 03 9497 2400.
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