Understanding Headstone Terminology

Understanding headstones can be a little difficult, especially when the term has a lot of meanings. While most people think of it as a memorial or monumental space, it also has other terminologies you should learn. Let’s explore these terminologies.

The Shapes and Stones for the Headstone

• Base: The lower part of a two-piece standing monument.
• Bevel: The flat marker that sits above the foundation’s ground.
• Flush: The flat marker without any pitch. Also known as a lawn level, it sits flush with the ground or earth.
• Slant: This is the larger version of the bevel and boasts a steeper pitch. It can be set without using a base.
• Die: The base or bottom part of a two-piece monument.
• Columbarium: The vault that contains urns for human ashes
• Serp: Also known as a Serpentine, it refers to the top shaped like waves or swoops.
• Oval: A standing monument with a half-egg shaped top.
• Western Slant: Similar to slants but with a Western touch. They have a polished face towards the viewers.

The Carvings and Blasting Used

• Frosted: As the name suggests, the finish is removed and leaves a frosted look on the headstones.
• Polished: With this reflective finish, viewers can see the granite colour. It is where the headstone starts off at.
• Rock Pitched: The sides of the stones are chiselled using hands hence leaving a rough edge.
• Shape Carve: It involves chiselling stones for the graveyard.
• Sand Blasting: The procedure of removing polish from the granite.
• Sculpting: The process of carving 3D images from granite.
• Etching: How to create artwork on the stone using a computer-operated machine.

Learn Lettering and Layout Terminologies

• Panel: The area to be lettered or written on.
• Raised Letters: These are the letters left higher on the surface. They have a raised look.
• Recessed: The art of carving or blasting on the stone which will have a different granite portion.
• Incised Letters: The letters to be blasted into the granite stone.
• Axed Outline Letters: The letters to be outlined on the polish for better contrast.


While there are so many other terms required for the headstone, the essential list will help you get a better foundation for the memorial that you desire. I have mentioned the most important terminologies.

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