The grown up version

A Little Headstone Architecture Lesson (one of many)


We begin our cemetery information with a small lecture on headstone/tombstone architecture. After you’ve walked through as many cemeteries as I have, you can tell the era in which a person died by the architectural design of their stone.

Picture 1:  This one, for instance is pretty new. I did not take a picture of the front of the stone because that is not what is important. Notice the engraving on the top side of the stone (here’s a closeup at Pic 2). Notice the depth of the design and the sharpness of the design. This is because of the modern techniques of sandblasting used to make this stone’s design. You won’t see that on stones prior to 1990.

Picture 5: This stone is late 1700s – those stones are thinner (remember no big machinery to haul it out of the ground and then to the cemetery in one piece).  The writing would have been done BY HAND on this one by a master stonecarver. I find that amazing.

Picture 6: Tombstones are now even polished to a smooth finish. I love the way that reflections show up in polished granite, whether it be pink, black or regular. This picture is a great example of the old way next to the new way. Notice the rose on top of the stone. I love this stone every time I see it – the rose is made from metal. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Picture 7: This is a highly stylized white marble monument. It’s relatively new – know how I can tell? First, the grains of the marble are showing, instead of being polished down. This is a modern design.  Marble is harder to get now and very expensive, so it’s not used as often as it was in the 1800s.

Picture 8: Marble, because it is a “softer” stone, is also easier to carve into beautiful iconic symbols. Like this one. We’ll go over iconography on a later blog, but notice the broken pillar and the funeral wreath on this stone. These are wonderful examples of iconography from the Victorian era.

Picture 9: I personally have a fondness for unusual stones used in headstones. Look at this pink unpolished granite stone. You can definitely tell it came from the clay-infused granite of North Georgia. Elberton, Georgia is considered the granite (read, tombstone) capital of the world. I order and travel directly to Elberton and haul my own stones back when I order them.

Pictures 9 and 10 are actually headstones side by side in the cemetery.  These are the stones of a  son, daughter in law, father and mother. The father was a Civil War General (iconography lesson in future post). Notice the differences in architecture. You can tell the difference in eras between the three burials and tell that the son didn’t have as much money as Daddy did. The stone for the son is much less ornate than his parent’s.

I could go on and on, but this first lesson is great for now. I welcome your constructive feedback.

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