What Are the Different Types of Headstones & Monuments?

Memorials such as headstones, burial vaults, crypts, and mausoleums represent the final resting place of someone who has passed away. They provide a permanent reminder of our loved ones and are a constant source of inspiration.

At The Catholic Cemeteries Association of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, we know there are several types of monuments and memorials to choose from, which can be overwhelming. 

Many types of memorials are available today, ranging from simple markers to elaborate statues. The type of memorial you choose depends on several things, such as the size, color, and shape of the monument.

What Is a Headstone? 

As their name suggests, headstones are memorials placed at the head of a burial plot. Headstones range from simple to ornate. They list the deceased’s name, birth date, and death date. Some headstones are large enough to include a quote or engraved image.

A “family headstone” commemorates multiple family members buried in adjacent plots, and they often include one large monument and several foot markers.

Headstones are also called tombstones, markers, gravestones, and grave markers.

Upright Monuments

Upright monuments are large raised memorials that are typically located at the head of a grave. They can include ornate granite sculptures or laser-etched scenes of personal portraits, outdoor scenes, or favorite hobbies. Some monuments have a statue carved into the side of the marker. Other monuments stand taller than traditional headstones, such as a raised obelisk.

Upright Headstones & Upright Monuments

Upright headstones and upright monuments allow for easy identification. The engraving can be seen from a distance, as these markers sit perpendicular to the ground. Upright grave markers rest on a raised base.

Slant Headstone vs. “Western” Full-Faced Slant Headstone 

Slanted grave markers are a style variation of traditional upright markers. 

Slant headstones, when viewed from the side, have a triangular shape. Instead of an upright face, the engraved side sits at an approximately 45-degree angle. 

Slant headstones are distinct from other slanted grave markers in that they have “nosing” around the bottom edge of the marker. The nosing creates a flat, approximately 2-inch base. Like upright headstones, slant headstones can sit on a raised base. They can also be set directly on a foundation without a base.

“Western” or Full-faced slant headstones do not have the nosing that slant headstones do. The lack of a flat bottom edge requires full-face slant headstones to be placed on a base. 

Slant-style monuments are any monuments that rest at an angle. Depending on their style and structure, these markers may be on a raised base or a foundation.

Flush Memorials & Bevel Headstones 

Flush memorials are placed flush (flat) with the ground. Most flat headstones rest on a foundation. Unlike raised headstones, you cannot read a flat headstone from a distance.

A bevel headstone is a type of flat headstone. The difference with beveled tombstones is that the top of the marker is slightly raised, often by two inches. This slight slant allows for easier identification and cleaning.

Footmarker Style Monuments

Today, only size differentiates a foot marker from a flat headstone. But in years past, some burial plots would have two grave markers, a headstone, and a smaller footstone. These two markers would outline the burial plot.

Bench Headstones & Granite Memorial Benches

Bench headstones are named for their flat, rectangular tops that resemble a bench seat. Bench headstones offer a more modern look than traditional headstones.

Granite memorial benches combine a headstone and a seating bench, with room for a couple of people to sit. Memorial benches offer plenty of room for personalization. Names, dates, images, and inscriptions can be carved onto the bench, often on the backrest. 

Columbarium and Mausoleums

A columbarium is an above-ground structure that houses a deceased person’s cremated remains. The niches containing the urns are stacked vertically. The front of each slot has room for a small nameplate. A columbarium allows for cremation while adhering to the Catholic Church’s belief that remains be kept in a sacred place, not scattered or kept in a private home.

Mausoleums are free-standing buildings that house a deceased’s remains above ground. A typical mausoleum crypt may have one or two spaces depending on the type of arrangement. Mausoleum crypts have a front which allows an area for personal memorialization. Indoor mausoleums (chapel mausoleums) typically include niches for cremation. 

Contact The Catholic Cemeteries Association to Learn More

CCA has a comprehensive line of monuments and memorials. Whether you’re looking for a traditional stone or something unique, we can provide you with precisely what you need.

Our staff can help you choose a marker that matches your budget and the personality of your loved one while honoring their Catholic heritage.

Contact us today for more information about The Catholic Cemeteries Association’s selection of headstones and cemeteries in Pittsburgh.