Woodlawn Funeral Home

Say not in grief: "He is no more", but live in thankfulness that he was. Hebrew Proverb

A History of the Memorial Monument

The placing of a permanent memorial marker at the site of a loved one's final place of rest has a long tradition. The tombstone is thought to have originated from an old Jewish custom where visitors to a grave site would place stones at the head of the grave as it was a common belief, at the time, that in order for the dead to remain in the grave, large piles of rocks must be placed above the grave.

Today, memorial monument, headstone, grave marker and tombstone are largely synonymous and refer to a permanent memorial marker at the site of one's burial location.  No matter the name used, markers to denote the location of one's grave were originally made out of marble, sandstone and at times, even wood. These materials; however, proved unable to withstand the tests of time. Current grave markers are constructed quite differently from their early counterparts and are now quite elaborate and ornate. Most of today's markers are smaller and simpler. Typically, they are plaques made of bronze, granite, or a combination of the two, and they are displayed directly on the ground at the head or foot of the grave. Large, up-right markers are less common these days and are not allowed at many of the perpetual cemeteries.


Today's marker style and design have changed from that of yesteryear; however, they remain an important memorial custom. As with so many other things that have changed over the years, cost and legislation has impacted how memorial marker design and style has changed. Unlike years past, cemeteries now have strict rules that govern what style, color, and size of memorial markers can be placed on their grounds. Many cemeteries will refuse to allow a marker to be placed if it does not conform to their guidelines.