What's the Difference Between Monuments, Headstones & Markers?

What’s the Difference Between Monuments, Headstones & Markers?

September 23, 2022

When it comes to remembering a loved one following their death, this is not a decision that should be made too quickly. Some people wait several months after their loved one’s death to decide on the type of memorial to purchase. There are so many options out there for you to choose from, including a headstone, marker, or monument. Continue to read to find out what the differences are between the three.

Differences Between Various Cemetery Stones


The headstone is the most popular form of memorial for a grave site. The headstone is typically a piece of rock, normally granite, that sits straight up (erect) on the ground. This allows people who walk past it to easily identify the individual. You can have whatever information you choose to have carved into the headstone. This can be the person’s name, date of birth, and death date. You may also choose to include a quote or saying. For military funerals, there is typically a sign or symbol of the person’s military outfit or division. Headstones are normally less ornate than cemetery monuments, and also smaller. It is typical to have one headstone per family.


When you think of a monument you may think of a rather large headstone. Headstones and monuments are the same shapes but monuments come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are grave sites containing lion monuments that are twenty feet long by ten feet high. You may also see other grave sites that contain large obelisks or tall skinny spindles. Monuments may contain an image or icon that is in three-dimensional form. You will notice many monuments if you walk through a cemetery, ranging from saints and angels watching over a grave site to other things that may represent the person. 

You may be able to request just about any type of monument to be created for your loved one, although there may be some certain height restrictions depending on the cemetery.


A smaller option for a memorial that may not attract as much attention as a headstone or monument is a marker. Cemetery markers typically sit flat, so you can only see them when standing straight over them. However, some markers are designed at a slight angle to make it easier to read. This is the easiest type of memorial to maintain. If you are unable to make it to the grave site, most cemetery ground crews are able to do this for you.

Often, unwanted weeds or grass around it will be removed. The marker allows for the same basic information as a headstone to be engraved on it. This is a great option for anyone who may be looking to save a bit of money and may not have the finances to build a large monument. It can also be for those who prefer not to have anything additional constructed over their grave site.


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