The different types of grave markers

Adults’ and children’s headstones, gravestones and memorials come in many different shapes and sizes, from the smallest plaques to large scale mausoleums. There is a great deal of choice so you can select something that is personal and meaningful. Here is a selection of different styles for you to keep in mind.

Upright headstones

The most common type of grave marker you will see features a taller stone that stands on a stable, flat base. They come in various heights, thicknesses and shapes as well as being made from a range of different materials. The flat front of the stone is typically engraved with a personal message.

Flat or flush plaques

These sit level on the ground rather than standing upright, and are generally made from a single piece of stone rather than the usual two. They come in a range of sizes, from small plaques to large ledger memorials that cover the majority if not all of the grave. There are many different shapes to choose from, including standard tablets or special designs.

Slant memorial

Similar to upright memorials, these have a flat base and a wedge shaped top section with slanting front. They typically have an angle of around 45 degrees but this can differ depending on the height of the stone. Slanted headstones are commonly used on family plots to identify where individual people are buried. They are also used when full sized memorials are not appropriate.

Bevel marker

These are a combination of flat and slant memorials. They are generally rectangular but are slightly taller at the back to create a gently sloping surface. When positioned they may look like they sit flat to the ground but they are actually slightly raised and angled.


Obelisks have been used as grave markers for thousands of years, originating from ancient Egypt. They sit on square bases and tower like columns, tapering off to a pointed or carved top. Some also feature statues and great decorations on the sides. They come in various heights and different styles.


These are the largest grave markers (in terms of overall size rather than height). They are free standing buildings that enclose a whole tomb, sometimes used for family burials or to commemorate a single, influential person. Some Christian mausoleums even include a chapel.

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