Modern headstones are more complex than ever before

Marking the final resting place of deceased people is an ancient practise that could date back as far as the Neanderthal period. Graves have been marked with stones, timbers, flowers and many other different things over time. The practice is very spiritual and has developed a long way including seeing several different materials used for the headstones.

Unworked stones were originally used but this changed over time and people started carving the stones and inscribing them. Early headstones as we know them were commonly made from slate because it was hardwearing. The downside of the material was it was tough to work with. Marble overtook it as a favoured material because it was easier to carve and available in various different colours. By 1850 granite had overtaken it because it is resilient, more readily available and is impressive aesthetically. It remains the most popular headstone material to this day.

Headstones need to be manufactured carefully by experienced stonemasons if they are to look their best and stand the test of time. The process can be long, particularly when you consider the amount of effort that goes in to mining the materials in the first place. Once suitable slabs of granite are available they need to be processed to cut them to size and polish the stone. All of this must occur before they can be carved into the right shape.

Modern methods have helped to speed up headstone production because several labour intensive processes can now be done by machine. This includes polishing the stones once they have been cut to size. Automated systems can drag the material along a conveyor belt with a number of rotating belts on them. These belts have differing levels of grit on them, from a highly abrasive one to felt buffer pads. The process smoothes the surface and produces a fantastic sheen.

Carving the finished stone into the desired shape can be done by machine or by hand by skilled masons. Once this is finished it will be polished again before the engraving and finishing is done. Stones can also be engraved by hand or be sand blasted. A final polish will be done afterwards so the headstone looks its best.

The amount of time it takes to manufacture headstones, memorial plaques, vases, and other monuments depends on several factors. The most pivotal of these is the type of material that has been chosen and the complexity of the design. When purchasing a headstone you should always consider the manufacturing time – we will be happy to discuss this with you so you feel fully informed about all aspects of the memorial manufacturing process.

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